ACORN 'Independent Advisory Council' Member Andy Stern Lets Loose on ACORN's Critics; Press Mum

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Last Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, in the wake of James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's embarrassing video barrage, went into damage control mode:

As a result of the indefensible action of a handful of our employees, I am, in consultation with ACORN’s Executive Committee, immediately ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review. I have also communicated with ACORN’s independent Advisory Council, and they will assist ACORN in naming an independent auditor and investigator to conduct a thorough review of all of the organization's relevant systems and processes.
The Politico entry from Ben Smith linked above reports that the (cough, cough) "Independent Advisory Council" consists of the following eight members:
  • John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Board Member, RFK Foundation, former MD Lt. Governor
  • Andrew Stern, International President, Service Employees International Union
  • Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman, Cityview
  • John Banks, Vice President of Government Relations Con Ed
  • Eric Eve, Senior VP of Global Consumer Group, Community Relations, Citigroup
  • Harvey Hirschfeld, President, Lawcash
  • Dave Beckwith, Executive Director, Needmor Fund
Concerning the first four, I'll quote from Karl at Hot Air's Green Room:
  • "Podesta runs the (George) Soros-funded Center for American Progress, which has been coordinating the public defense of ACORN this summer."
  • "Townsend is so independent that she called the stories of ACORN’s frequent involvement in voter fraud a 'desperate smokescreen maneuver' masking an extensive coast-to-coast GOP push to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters in 2008. "
  • "Stern heads SEIU, which has a very cozy relationship with ACORN. How cozy? ACORN controls or significantly dominates several SEIU chapters."
  • "Cisneros, who worked regularly with ACORN as HUD Secretary, would later plead guilty to lying to the FBI to cover up a political embarrassment."

Thus, half of the people on this board appear to be personally vested in a whitewash audit, and should have recused themselves from the selection of an outside auditor, but more than likely haven't. The the other four gentlemen may be compromised because their entities have had dealings with ACORN. I'll look at them later in the post.

In other words, not a single person on the "Independent Advisory Council" may be truly independent. Yet this motley crew is supposed to pick an independent auditor. If the selection is not a very large public accounting firm upon which ACORN has imposed no scope limitations, look out below.

SEIU's Stern wasn't even able to keep his mouth shut for the sake of appearances for 48 hours, issuing a scathing press release on Friday that began as follows:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union, issued the following statement today regarding recent attempts of right wing extremists to silence working families by attacking progressive individuals and community organizations:

"This is a moment of profound change for this country -- from kitchen tables to town halls to the floor of the Senate, this nation is engaged in a vigorous and heated debate about how we rebuild our economy, solve our national healthcare crisis and restore the American Dream.

"As has always happened when progressive change is in the air, the backlash gets fierce, ugly and anti-American. This time is no different. Right now, there is an insidious and coordinated effort on the part of the extreme right to target individuals and grassroots community groups as a way to silence the voices of women and men who have suffered the most under 8 years of right wing policies.

"These extremists will attempt to shut down and shout down anyone with a different point of view.

"Let's be clear who we are talking about -- call them attack dogs, call them Teabaggers, call them Glenn Beck -- these are the same folks who cheered the policies that crashed our economy. Who make up lies about death panels to try to kill healthcare reform. Who scream about democracy while denying workers a voice on the job. Who target anyone who poses a threat to a status quo that for too long has rewarded greedy CEOs while leaving people who work out in the cold.

"This is not the America we believe in.

"Their lies, their stunts and their smears will not silence us. ....

Media coverage of Stern's press release as a news story demonstrating his likely unfitness to serve on the Board non-existent. A Google News search at 3 p.m. on "Andy Stern" (in quotes) from September 18-21, with duplicates included, came back with 32 items (the page header claiming over 700 is incorrect). 22 of those items were unrelated to the press release. Seven of them were the press release itself. The three items that remain were commentaries by the Examiner's Byron York, the Examiner's Kimberly Morin, and the Chicago Daily Observer's Pat Hickey, who deliciously described the Board as "the ACORN 8-Balls."

Hickey, as far as I can tell uniquely, reveals the following about the Board's four other members:

  • John Banks - Up and Coming New York Government Relations fizer with MTA and Con Ed. Traffic and lights.
  • Eric Eve another Clintonista who found a home with CITI Group who made out handsomely on bad loans and Federal Bailouts!
  • Harvey Hirschfeld is Pay-to-Play Player in the Easy Loan Get Fed Money Finance World now with Litigation Lawyers CashLaw!
  • Dave Beckwith is an AllStar Community Organizer Like Jesus Was! Like Jesus, Dave plays to win Dig it!"

Among other contributions to Democrats in 2008, Banks gave $1,000 to Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel and $3,300 to Obama campaign funds in 2008.

Eve gave $6,000 to Democratic candidates in the 2008 election cycle, including $2,500 to the Obama Victory Fund.

Hirschfeld's contributions are more bi-partisan, with $4,737 of his $7,737 in contributions going to Democrats. But note that $2,000 went to New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who not only voted against defunding ACORN last week, but called the vote a "flatly unconstitutional" bill of attainder.

Beckwith's Needmor Fund is actually a community organizing outfit based in Toledo, Ohio; it seems that Beckwith is considered a bit of a community organizing guru.

If a conservative lashed out as Stern did on Friday, or if a conservative group had shady insiders with a history of prior affiliations involved in the selection of an auditor in a scandal situation, I daresay you would see the Associated Press, the New York Times, and the Washington Post covering it in negative terms.

But the establishment media's ACORN protection game just goes on, and on, and on, and on.

(Image is from the December 30, 2008 New York Daily News).

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.