Zombie-like, ‘disbanded’ ACORN coming back to life in form of new groups

Jonathan Strong Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.
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The group that schemed with undercover journalists over how to claim underage prostitutes as “dependents” for tax purposes wants you to think it has disbanded.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) said in a March 20 statement it was disbanding in the face of “well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded, right-wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era.”

But now its multi-headed progeny are rising up like zombies, Republicans on the House oversight committee say in a new draft report obtained by The Daily Caller.

“This is all a shell game,” Kurt Bardella, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s press secretary said in an interview. The report says asset transfers to the new groups “appear to be an effort to protect the survival of the organization as well as a consolidated effort by senior ACORN officials to consolidate resources.”

In California, ACORN transferred all its assets to Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut chapters have consolidated under the banner New England United for Justice – and so on.

In each case, a group with the same assets and staff is operating at the same address with the same mission as the ACORN branch that once operated there.

ACORN representatives in several states and ACORN media contacts in Washington did not reply to a request for comment by press time.

Changing the names of the organizations is important because it could allow the organization to escape accountability for scandals that prompted Congress to defund the group. (A federal court ruled the law defunding ACORN was unconstitutional).

“Rebranding is an important legal strategy for ACORN to survive. By changing the names of its state and local affiliates, ACORN can rebuild its tax-exempt contributions under the guise of its superficially new and separate corporations as well as its public image,” Issa’s report said.

The legal arrangements show the new groups are not in any significant way different from the previous chapters.

“These rebrandings and transactions indicate that local chapters are not forcibly separating themselves from ACORN, but are attempting to reinvent themselves through a process done in full coordination with ACORN and its national senior leadership including [ACORN chief executive] Bertha Lewis,” the report said.

The asset transfer in California is case in point. Under the terms of the agreement, which was signed by Lewis and ACORN big-wig Amy Schur, ACCE pays Lewis $9,000 for all of the ACORN California chapter’s assets, including property, donor e-mail lists, and a database of dues-paying members.

The full list of new ACORN groups is as follows:

  • In California, ACORN is now the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (“ACCE”)
  • In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, ACORN is New England United for Justice.
  • In New York, ACORN is New York Communities for Change.
  • In Arkansas, ACORN has become Arkansas Community Organizations (“ACO”).
  • In Louisiana, ACORN is “A Community Voice”.
  • In Missouri, ACORN is Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (“MORE”).
  • In Washington state, ACORN is Organization United for Reform (“OUR”) Washington.
  • In Minnesota, ACORN is Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.
  • In Pennsylvania, ACORN has become the Pennsylvania Communities Organizing for Change (“PCOC”) and Pennsylvania Neighborhoods for Social Justice, Inc.
  • In Texas, ACORN is now the Texas Organizing Project.
  • ACORN Housing Corporation (“AHC”) has renamed itself Affordable Housing Centers of America, Inc.