The 2008 historic election season marked the end of ACORN's uncanny ability to remain both prominent and relatively obscure. ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities. Since 1970, ACORN had grown to more than 400,000 member families, organized in 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 103 cities across the U.S. and in cities in Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, India and Peru.
ACORN has taken direct action and won victories on issues of concern to our members, including better housing for first time homebuyers and tenants, living wages for low-wage workers, more investment in our communities from banks and governments, and better public schools. The hypocrisy of ACORN lies in the fact that the organization made famous by fighting for the voices of low income people to be heard in America, actively squashes these same voices of dissent within the organization.
Referencing ACORN, Marcel Reid explains that “ours is the voice for hundreds of thousands of otherwise disenfranchised people.” Noting that voice must now rise above questionable voter registrations and America's financial crisis, Reid cautions fellow board members to overcome “the ACORN culture of acquiescence to Wade Rathke and his family so that ACORN vindicates the poor and moderate income people it represents.” Reid and Inman emphatically assert with support of the full ACORN Eight, that they were “authorized and need to pursue a forensic accounting, independent audit, and expedited discovery to identify and protect ACORN assets and interests.”
Ironically, the ACORN board voted to withdraw the lawsuit – but instead to continue an internal investigation into the embezzlement. This is essentially the same strategy the executive committee and senior staff members attempted when they learned about, and then concealed, the embezzlement from the full board. Thus, today’s vote indicates that the full board may have acquiesced to the original cover up – even if they had known about the fraud at the time. However, authorizing the IMC was the Association Board’s first attempt to exercise autonomy and control over ACORN by its membership.