ACORN Fights Back

6 10 2009

bertha lewisSorry folks, there is no way in hell that Ms. Lewis is surprised by the recent discoveries of criminal behavior in her organization. I would bet some very serious money that she is only trying to save her BS filled rear-end.

And that my dear friends is as nice as I’m willing to be to this lady. But on the other hand, I won’t go too far with my condemnation of her either. Why? Because she is only following the examples set by her President. If things are not going your way, you obfuscate and lie your way out of it. What a prez, huh?


ACORN CEO Says She’s ‘Cleaning Out’ Embattled Organization

In a speech to the National Press Club, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called embezzlement allegations “completely false” and defended the group’s management and mission.

Embattled ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, acknowledging “we know we have some work to do,” said Tuesday she is “cleaning out” her organization, even as she defended it against accusations of corruption, incompetence and widespread illegal activity.

Lewis spoke one day after an internal review by ACORN’s board of directors found that $5 million was embezzled from the organization by the brother of the group’s founder, far more than the previously reported amount of $1 million, according to documents released Monday.

In her speech to the National Press Club in Washington, Lewis, who called the embezzlement allegation “completely false,” defended the 38-year-old group’s management and mission and vowed that ACORN has taken every step to prevent further problems.

“I was cleaning out, and am cleaning out, all the vestiges of the old administration,” Lewis said.

She began her remarks by referring to a series of videos that showed ACORN employees in several cities offering advice to a fake pimp and prostitute, joking that many now knew her organization as the “international brothel network.”

“We know that we have work to do. Some of the actions that you all caught on the video, it made my stomach turn over. It just made you sick,” Lewis said, admitting that the videotape scandal hit her “like a ton of bricks.”

“Those actions are indefensible, and we have to change them. So, in a way we’ve aided and abetted our attackers. But we take the need for self-evaluation very seriously,” she said.

Lewis outlined ACORN’s long history of “fighting for people who don’t have a voice.”

“I believe in what I call ‘bureaucrats for social justice,'” she said. “It doesn’t seem glamorous like other community organizing, but when you organize poor people, they deserve just as much professionalism, the best employees, the best staff, as any other group. 

“I wiped out and changed the whole management structure. I brought in professionals from legal to auditing.” 

She touted the group’s work on low-income housing, funding for education, and fighting for better wages.

“Every day, we were helping working families not only to stay in their homes … but also lifting, don’t move, improve. Fight for your neighborhoods….

“We have built solidly rooted and powerful community organizations,” Lewis said.

“If these accomplishments make me the biggest threat to democracy in America, maybe I need to check the definition of democracy.”

Lewis vowed that ACORN has learned from its recent difficulties and has taken steps to address them.

“What did we do? We immediately went out, we immediately hired outside professionals. We needed to make sure that we were addressing the root of this problem and that it would never happen again.”

The revelation that $5 million had been embezzled from ACORN was reported in a subpoena from the investigation by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. It is unclear if the money was taken from state, federal or private funds, according to the subpoena.

Caldwell issued subpoenas in August seeking documents related to ACORN’s then-President Wade Rathke and his brother, Dale Rathke, who kept the group’s books. Those subpoenas targeted possible violations of state employee tax law, obstruction of justice and violations of the Employee Retirement Security Act.

The attorney general made inquiries in June into alleged embezzlement within ACORN that happened 10 years ago. The group last year dealt with an internal dispute and a lawsuit involving accusations that Dale Rathke made nearly $1 million in improper credit card charges in 1999 and 2000. Rathke’s brother and a donor repaid the money.

But Caldwell said last month that the statute of limitations prevented prosecutors from taking action on the alleged embezzlement, and that his investigation was not focused on that issue.

The subpoena issued Monday puts a new emphasis on the embezzlement issue. It appears to be in reaction to documents gathered from ACORN’s board as a result of the subpoenas issued in August.

“Current high ranking members of ACORN have publicly acknowledged that embezzlement did in fact occur, but the exact amount of the embezzlement was unknown until it was recently acknowledged in a board of directors meeting on Oct. 17, 2008, by Bertha Lewis and Liz Wolf that an internal review had determined that the amount embezzled was $5 million,” the new subpoena says.

The subpoena requests documents from Citizens Consulting Inc., which assisted ACORN, and from various accounting and legal consultants in New Orleans.

Wade Rathke could not be reached immediately for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




2 responses

6 10 2009
6 10 2009

Bertha Lewis, in this account, is much more combative:

After a series of undercover videos surfaced showing ACORN employees giving advice to conservative activists posing as a prostitute and a pimp, opponents in Congress have sought to cut the group’s sources of federal money. Lewis called the congressional actions a case of “modern day ACORN McCarththyism,” and she dismissed a report by the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee alleging that ACORN used some charitable funding for political purposes.

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