Add longtime Service Employees International Union leader and ACORN founder Wade Rathke to the chorus of left-wing voices who leveraged the occasion of conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart’s death to vent their spleens.
“I’m sorry he’s dead, but the plain truth is that he was already beaten,” Rathke wrote Friday on his blog. “The voices he attempted to silence were no longer as loud, but they still were raised for justice, including mine and many others.”
“Breitbart’s moment coincided with the Tea Party and fell as fast as they ebbed,” wrote Rathke.
ACORN is the defunct but reconstituted community organizing group whose demise Breitbart hastened by publishing a series of videos in 2011. The videos showed the group’s employees advising a costumed “pimp” about how to dodge assorted laws while operating a brothel, among other offenses.
The resulting national furor launched Breitbart’s “BigGovernment.com” website.
Capital Research Center senior editor Matthew Vadum, whose book “Subversion, Inc.” alleges that ACORN is “still terrorizing and ripping off American taxpayers,” told The Daily Caller that the group Rathke founded was “one of the greatest criminal conspiracies in American history.”
“It enraged [Rathke] when Andrew Breitbart led the way in destroying what he spent four decades building,” Vadum added.
But to Rathke, Breitbart’s success was emblematic of political “huckster[s]” in search of “rubes in cities large and small ready to fall for whatever tricks he had up his sleeve.”
“Truth or fiction hardly mattered as long as it drove traffic to his websites, dollars to his pockets, and stirred up a mess, which then drove more traffic. That was his business and that was all he really cared about.”
While Breitbart didn’t make a show of attacking Wade Rathke directly, his ACORN organization — and his brother Dale Rathke — were different matters.
The late conservative raconteur was fond of referring to Dale’s eventually acknowledged embezzlement of millions from the ACORN-affiliated Citizens Consulting Inc. The missing money was booked on the organization’s accounts as a loan until outside groups learned of it.
Although ACORN first became aware of the missing funds in 2000, Wade Rathke later admitted keeping it a secret for eight years because “word of the embezzlement would have put a ‘weapon’ into the hands of enemies of ACORN.”
Ultimately a report, commissioned by ACORN from former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, determined that the organization’s employees broke no laws. But Harshbarger castigated ACORN’s management, including Wade Rathke, for the embezzlement cover-up.
As ACORN crumbled and lost its federal funding, its leaders ended up “reaping what Rathke sowed,” Harshbarger wrote.
While countless obituaries have praised Breitbart as a trailblazer, the Associated Press was more muted on Thursday, and focused on allegedly selectively “edited videos.”
Rathke went further, alleging that the AP “minced no words in writing of the spurious editing behind the ACORN videos he promoted.”
“When obits are reduced to saying that you cared about your family and were loyal to your spouse (‘according to friends’), oh, and maybe you didn’t hate gay people, there can’t be any doubt that liberalism is still alive and well and searching for something nice to say,” Rathke added.
In an email to The Daily Caller, Rathke wrote that he was quoting a New York Times obituary with the words “according to friends.”
“I didn’t know his personal life to have an opinion one way or another, and I’m certainly not inferring anything about his personal life,” Rathke wrote.
“I can clearly state that I’m sorry he’s dead, but I was absolutely not a fan.”
Rathke did not, however, respond to a question asking “how calling Andrew Breitbart a ‘huckster’ and saying ‘hate, lies, and innuendo were the tools he wielded’ comports with your later claim that you would not ‘beat on him now that he’s down’?”
Breitbart, he alleged on his blog, “built nothing, since hate, lies, and innuendo were the tools he wielded and they were only useful in trying to destroy.”