While the Obama administration runs away from ACORN here in the United States it is quietly embracing ACORN overseas.
The Obama administration is using U.S. government resources to help the embattled radical advocacy organization spread the gospel of left-wing community organizing in India.
President Obama’s ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, recently lent his name and the prestige of the U.S. government to ACORN India’s efforts to organize rag-pickers in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay). Roemer is a former Democratic congressman who represented an Indiana district.
The website of the U.S. embassy in India displays a photograph from May 11 in which Ambassador Roemer is shown meeting with rag pickers in Dharavi, a slum in the suburbs of Mumbai. The official caption accompanying the picture indicates Roemer was discussing “ACORN India’s local waste management and recycling program.”
The Indo-Asian News Service confirmed in a report that day that Roemer spent time at the ACORN facility and met with ACORN India representative Vikram Adige.
The U.S. consulate in Mumbai, headed by Consul General Paul A. Flombsee, also co-sponsored a water conservation event on March 22 with ACORN India. Flomsbee is listed as the expected guest of honor at the event on ACORN India’s website.
ACORN India reports to ACORN International, which now goes by the name Community Organizations International. ACORN International serves as an umbrella organization for the various national organizations conducting ACORN’s business outside the U.S. ACORN International’s Facebook page describes the group’s mission as “building community groups in low income communities across the world to organize for power.”
ACORN International is active in Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mexico, and Peru.
One of the reasons the group was created was to allow ACORN to apply its corporate shakedown techniques against Western corporations as they expand into rapidly developing markets such as India.
ACORN India’s website declares that the group was created to help defend the “socialist legacy” of Jawaharlal Nehru, a leftist who was prime minister of India from 1947 to 1964. That “legacy” is “now in danger from the onslaught of the march of global corporatism,” according to the website.
“Countries like India are the next frontiers of significant market expansion for multi-national corporations; and these corporations are now starting to apply extreme pressure on the government of India for unfettered access,” according to ACORN India. “[The] Indian market is facing an onslaught of both foreign and domestic corporate retailers, the most notable of which is Wal-mart.”
ACORN India apparently uses the same aggressive, in-your-face organizing tactics that ACORN uses in the U.S. Its website declares that since 2006 it has “built key relationships with leadership of political parties, trade unions, hawkers and farmers’ groups, peoples’ movements and the media,” along with “community organizations, trade unions, peoples’ movements and [non-governmental organizations], thus engaging progressively in poverty alleviation and urban development.”
ACORN has long set its sights on Wal-Mart, which like ACORN, was founded in Arkansas. ACORN created an affiliate, W*A*R*N (Wal-Mart Alliance for Reform Now), specifically to organize unions in Wal-Mart stores.
ACORN International is headed by ACORN founder Wade Rathke. Like a modern-day Karl Marx in exile, Rathke is doing his best to spread the wealth all around the globe, spreading social justice and shakedown techniques to the far corners of the globe. He uses the ACORN brand, which has been tarnished in the U.S. after a series of scandals, in his organizing efforts abroad.
Although both ACORN and ACORN International say ties between the two organizations have been severed, sources close to ACORN believe Rathke works behind-the-scenes with ACORN.
Rathke isn’t supposed to have any ties to ACORN. When ACORN’s national board fired him as chief organizer in June 2008, he was ordered to sever any connections he had to the group.
Yet, Rathke does not appear to have stepped down as president and director of Affiliated Media Foundation Movement (AM/FM), an ACORN affiliate that produces news segments for eight alternative radio stations.
Rathke remains publisher of ACORN’s periodical, Social Policy magazine. The magazine is published by Labor Neighbor Research and Training Center, an ACORN affiliate.
Rathke is also chief organizer of United Labor Unions Local 100 in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, a position he has held since 1979. Long a member group of the ACORN network, the union local was part of Service Employees International Union until last fall when it was disaffiliated from SEIU.
Rathke was booted out of ACORN after he orchestrated an eight-year cover-up of a nearly $1 million embezzlement from the group that his brother Dale Rathke perpetrated around 2000 while a senior ACORN official.