-by Anita MonCrief, TheNextRight.com
Last week there seemed to be some debate over the tax status of ACORN. The great thing for ACORN is that they want it to be that way. ACORN is a conglomeration of “social” organizations whose main goal seems to be keeping minorities marginalized and poor. After 38 years of the ACORN way, I would have to say that the communities that they “help” have hardly seen any of the estimated $120 million a year that the council of ACORN organizations brings in.
Often one entity will solicit money explicitly for ACORN but never mention ACORN in the application. For example, Project Vote did not have the field capacity to run half of the programs that it requested money for during the 2007-2008 cycle.
A quote from the Project Vote 2007-08 Voter Participation Program general support proposal reveals ambitious goals.
“Project Vote’s 2007 Voter Participation Program, made up of the five priority areas noted above, will meet the following goals:
- Assist 1.1 million voters in filling out voter registration applications (over 2007 and 2008) through our “traditional” program
- Assist 400,000 – 600,000 New Americans fill out voter registration applications
- Reach a minimum of 1.9 million voters for voter education and mobilization
The entire cost of this program is estimated at $28 million for 2007-08.
“A quick query of the document shows that the word ACORN does not appear at all, but ACORN as everyone is aware, has run the voter registration program for years. Where the problem comes in is that Project Vote is using its tax exempt status to directly fund ACORN. In an email dated Monday, June 04, 2007 Nathan Henderson-James, who serves as both the Project Vote Research Director and the ACORN Political Strategic Writing and Research Director demonstrated this “wink, wink” approach to financial reporting.
From: Nathan Henderson-James firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 8:28 PMTo: David LagsteinCc: Anita Moncrief
Subject: Dotting i’s and crossing t’s
In an effort to ensure that we are in compliance with government regs about these EAC grants and whatnot, I’m going to ask you to take the notes from February about the MI poll worker project (which I am attaching) on MI ACORN letterhead (I’d say include the part all the way down to the “notes” section) with a cover letter saying something like “Here’s the report of our activities for the Poll Worker Project.”
Actually here’s some suggested language:
“Please find enclosed a summary of the work undertaken by MI ACORN-Saginaw for the Young Poll Worker Recruitment Project. As you can see we met or exceeded our numeric goals for numbers of workers recruited. We consider this project a success.
It was great to partner with Project Vote on this project and we look forward to working with you again when circumstances warrant it.
If you have any comments or questions do not hesitate to contact me at (number) or (e-mail).
Make it out to me (address below) and e-mail me a copy.
But also SNAIL MAIL a copy to the DC office for the paper files. Make it out to Anita MonCrief’s attention at 739 8th St. SE, Washington, DC, 20003. I’m cc’ing her on the e-mail as well.
Thanks a lot!
PS I am enclosing the two narrative reports so you can see how this worked out.
Director, Strategic Writing and Research Department (SWORD)
3655 S. Grand Ave #250
Los Angeles, CA 90007
213-747-7202 phone, 213-747-4221 fax, 510-213-1970 cell
The problem that exists with this “partnership” is that there is not separation between Project Vote activities and ACORN activities. In all fairness, in preparation for the intense scrutiny of the 2008 elections, the Project Vote national office in DC did build a door to separate it from ACORN National, DC ACORN and ACORN Housing who all occupy the building.
David’s reply can be seen as an acknowledgment of what Nathan is suggesting
From: David Lagstein
To: Nathan Henderson-James
Cc: Anita Moncrief
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 11:00 AM
Subject: RE: Dotting i’s and crossing t’s
I see – I am just sending the letter with the attached notes, not the stuff that project vote wrote.
1249 Washington Blvd., Suite 1303
Detroit, MI 48226
“It is equally disturbing that the grant in question is a government grant from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) relating to the Help America Vote Act. With ACORN’s history of partisan and aggressive activity, I wonder if they would have qualified without Project Vote’s tax status. On the ACORN side Nathan helps select the states that the voter registration programs are run, usually based on partisan considerations; and on the Project Vote side, he writes the proposals and the reports to fund ACORN’s political agenda.
I think its time that the IRS took a look at this cozy relationship and at their compliance with tax exempt rules and regulations. I am sure that they would be interested to know that tax letters have not gone out to ALL donors since at least 2005, they are un-cashed checks from individual donors dating back to 2004 lying in boxes in the DC office and until late 2007 there was maybe $10 million dollars worth of unaccounted income that could not be tracked.
This house of cards has been shaky for years and hopefully it will fall before it squanders more government funds.
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