ACORN Could Remain Potent and Well-Funded Into 2010 Elections
Although large majorities of House and Senate Democrats have voted to cut off funding for ACORN, this rebuke could be reversed as soon as November 1st.
This is a point that has been overlooked in press coverage of the besieged left-leaning community action group. Moreover, even if ACORN (the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) does lose out on public funding it continues to receive support from foundations, corporations and individual donors, including George Soros.
Despite the scope and magnitude of ongoing scandals that have ensnared ACORN officials, there remains a certain slyness to the news coverage in that the focus is on "conservative firestorms" and "McCarthyite tactics" , as opposed to potential felonies that have been captured on tape, to say nothing of voter fraud registration allegations and financial misappropriation.
Only four Democrats joined with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in opposing legislation that would allow organizations with a criminal history to receive federal funding back in April.
Thanks to the videos that show ACORN staffers telling undercover investigators how they falsify documents, obtain illegal loans and set up brothels congressional Democrats were finally persuaded to go on record and vote against continued funding. But here's the rub.
ACORN is only defunded from now through Halloween.
"This is the biggest trick or treat," Bachmann observed during a bloggers conference held at Heritage Foundation. "On November 1 the prohibition will lift."
As it turns out, there are seven U.S. Senators and 75 House members who remain insufficiently scandalized to join with other Democrats in casting a vote that may in long run turn out to be mere window dressing.
In reality, ACORN's public funding represents just a relatively small percentage of its financial base, Matthew Vadum, a senior editor and analyst with the Capital Research Center (CRC), points out.
"Even without federal taxpayer dollars ACORN will remain well-funded because it receives support from liberal foundations, high-dollar donors such as Herb and Marion Sandler, and from annual membership dues," he said. "Also we really don't know how much they have already gotten from their aggressive corporation shakedown campaigns. So much of ACORN's finances are hidden from public view."
The lead ACORN organization registered in Arkansas and New Orleans has received $3 million from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, $821,000 from the Robin Hood Foundation, $595,000 from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and $65,000 from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, according to CRC.
Other foundations have contributed to ACORN's affiliates.
Project Vote has received $4,047,500 from the Rockefeller Family Fund and $1,460,801 from the Tides Foundation, financial records show. ACORN's American Institute for Social Justice (AISJ) has received almost $30 million in foundation grants, since 2000, according to CRC.
AISJ has received $5,125,000 from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, $4,130,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and $265,000 from the Needmor Fund.
The Woods Fund of Chicago, where President Barack Obama and former Weather Underground leader William Ayers sat as board members, has donated about $190,000 to the ACORN network, according to CRC.
Obama and Ayers served on the Woods Fund board from 1999 to 2001, when two of the ACORN grants were made.
Soros's Open Society donated $25,000 to ACORN, while his Democracy Alliance steered a grant of "unknown size" to the community group back in 2006, according to CRC.
Some foundations are at least reevaluating their support and a few have ended their previous relationship.
"The grant that we made to ACORN is up as of October and we are certainly taking a look at everything in light of recent allegations to determine whether or not we will continue funding," Mark Bezos, a senior vice-president of development and communications for Robin Hood said in an interview.
Sue Lin Chong, communications director with Annie E. Casey Foundation said her organization has ended its program for ACORN.
"We are not supporting ACORN at this time," she said. "We don't have a funding relationship with ACORN and there are no plans to make any future funding to ACORN."
Harvey Robbins, director of strategic planning and operations for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, said ACORN is no longer part of the foundation's portfolio.
"The strategy has totally changed since any donations were made to ACORN and that was before my time," he said. "We only have 20 grantees in our whole portfolio. We have clear criteria for what we fund, what we may have funded in the past was part of a strategy that no longer exists."
Even so, Bret Jacobson, president and founder of Maverick Strategies, expects ACORN to remain a potent force at least through the 2010 elections. ACORN is already under investigation for voter fraud allegations in at least 14 states.
"While a few politicians on Capitol Hill may be embarrassed into cutting off taxpayer funding, there's no reason to think ultra-wealthy ultra-liberal foundations will feel any similar shame," he said. "Public money is just a slice of ACORN's immense income stream. They still have enough wealthy allies on the far left to keep them in headlines for the next couple elections."