Politics

ACORN lobbying efforts continue in Washington under Communities United name

Photo of Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Contributor
  • See All Articles
  • Send Email
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Bio

      Matthew Vadum

      Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy with a special focus on left-wing advocacy groups. An award-winning investigative reporter, Vadum's book, <em>Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers</em>, was published in 2011.

For a supposedly dead organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now sure has been busy.

Despite ACORN’s reported demise, the radical group’s flagship Washington, D.C., office continues to go about its business below the radar as state chapters across the nation form breakaway groups.

On May 5 ACORN’s new D.C. spinoff group, Communities United, held a founding meeting in ACORN’s office on 8th Street Southeast in the nation’s capital.

“Communities United is just ACORN’s way of thumbing their nose in the face of everyone,” sources close to ACORN say.

The D.C. office is important to ACORN because the embattled advocacy organization runs its congressional lobbying efforts out of it.

The same office is also home to Project Vote, ACORN’s voter registration arm, which continues to operate. In the 1990s President Obama trained ACORN activists and worked for Project Vote.

Communities United registered as a nonprofit corporation with the District of Columbia government on May 4 and is the product of the consolidation of ACORN’s D.C. and Maryland chapters. The new group expects to open a Maryland branch office, sources said.

ACORN’s head organizer for Columbus, Ohio, Barbara Clark, is expected to be brought in to run the new group, according to sources. As part of a racketeering lawsuit settlement with the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a libertarian public interest law firm, ACORN is required to surrender its business licenses in Ohio by June 1.

Apart from Communities United, ACORN chapters in 12 states have reorganized themselves into 11 new organizations. The largest appear to be Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, New York Communities for Change, and New England United for Justice (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island).

Meanwhile, lobbyists for ACORN’s largest and best-funded affiliate, ACORN Housing, which recently changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America, disclosed in a lobbying reporting form that they have been lobbying a federal agency that is reportedly investigating ACORN Housing.

According to the form ACORN Housing paid the lobbying firm $40,000 in the first quarter of this year to lobby both houses of Congress, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

ACORN Housing is under investigation by HUD.

ACORN received some unwanted publicity in recent weeks when a video surfaced showing ACORN Chief Executive and chief organizer Bertha Lewis openly praising socialism and referring to the Tea Party as a “bowel movement” filled with racists.

Although ACORN leaders typically refuse to be labeled as socialists because they realize the term has a negative connotation in American culture, ACORN’s manifesto, the “People’s Platform,” explicitly endorses massive redistribution of wealth, along with a crackdown on bankers and forcing corporations to put poor people on their corporate boards.

Lewis told reporters last month that her group had reduced its staff to four, down from as many as 600 employees.