WaPo: ACORN a reverse Robin Hood

Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. According to the Washington Post, ACORN took millions of dollars intended to go to the poor, and gave them to politicians — and themselves.  Newly-revealed records show that ACORN may have a lot more problems than giving advice to purported child-prostitution traffickers:

Documents released by a Senate Republican on Thursday show that leaders of the ACORN community organizing network transferred several million dollars in charitable and government money meant for the poor to arms of the group that have political and sometimes profit-making missions.

ACORN’s tax-exempt groups and allied organizations, long a target of conservative ire, used more than half their charitable and public money in 2006 to pay other ACORN affiliates, according to an analysis by the tax staff of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

On Thursday, Grassley called the transactions a “big shell game” and said ACORN donors may be surprised by how the liberal group known for helping the poor obtain housing and health care was spending their money. He urged the Internal Revenue Service to take a closer look.

According to the Grassley report, charities “are being used to raise monies which are then funneled to other charities or to other organizations for purposes other than what the donor may have intended. . . . Dollars raised for charitable [purposes] appear to be used for impermissible lobbing and political activity.”

We can thank Andrew Breitbart, James O’Keefe, and Hannah Giles for making ACORN interesting to the media, after years of ignoring allegations of corruption and fraud within the organization.  The team from Big Government showed a systemic pattern of disregard for the law, especially on tax evasion.  This, however, will hit a lot closer to home, especially as ACORN attempts to raise funds to compensate for the loss of business after Congress and the executive branch rushed to cut ties to the group.

In response, Bertha Lewis noted that the problems Grassley documents comes from 2006-7, under different ACORN management.   ACORN founder Wade Rathke ran the group in that period, and redirected funds to other groups he ran, including millions from Project Vote.  Lewis says that these problems have since been corrected, and Rathke left his position at ACORN in June 2008 — but remains as ACORN’s “chief organizer.”

Grassley has requested that ACORN be removed from the list of charities to which federal employees can donate during their charitable-contribution drives.  Hopefully, the IRS has something a little more serious in mind.