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March 21 Letter from NHRC’s Dorpalen to CFPB Senior Advisor Calls for Extension of Home Affordable Modification Program; Obama Administration Extends Program Eight Weeks Later 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained documents from the Consumer Financial Protection Administration (CFPB) revealing that Bruce Dorpalen, the former Director of ACORN Housing and current Executive Director of the ACORN spin-off the National Housing Resource Center (NHRC), has met repeatedly with top Obama administration officials, including CFBP Director Richard Cordray and U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, to advise them on government housing policy.

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According to the documents, obtained pursuant to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on May 16, 2013:

  • In a December 10, 2012, email, CFPB Senior Advisor Brenda Muniz wrote to Dorpalen to confirm that he would, “be the one to introduce Director Cordray” at an NHRC “Leaders in Housing Counseling” forum held to be held at Washington’s Renaissance Hotel on December 12.

When Dorpalen invited Muniz and CPFB Associate Director Zixta Martinez to a dinner with representatives from several housing counseling agencies the night before the forum, Muniz apparently had questions about attending the event, writing to Martinez, “I’m going to submit this to ethics unless you think I shouldn’t.” No information was provided as to Martinez’ response.

  • The attendees list generated by Dorpalen for Muniz concerning an April, 2013 meeting indicates that Dorpalen met with CFPB Regional Strategist Keo Chea and with representatives of the Federal Reserve. The meeting was also attended by Dustin Toomey, the Executive Director of Affordable Housing Centers of PA (an ACORN spin-off co-located with the NHRC).
  • A subsequent email from Dorpalen indicates that on April 11, 2013, he had “a meeting in the afternoon with Tom Curry from the OCC.” As Comptroller of the Currency, Curry supervises more than 2,000 national banks and federal savings associations throughout the United States.
  • A March 25, 2013, email reveals that Dorpalen sent a letter signed by 240 housing counseling agencies to CFPB’s Martinez and Muniz lobbying for an “extension of the HAMP [Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and Making Home Affordable programs past the December 31, 2013 deadline” for their expiration.

Just eight weeks later, on May 30, 2013, the Obama administration announced that it had extended the programs to 2015.

  • A January 10, 2013, email indicates that Dorpalen was invited to be a panelist at a January CFPB field hearing in Atlanta, Georgia. Before the panel, Muniz apparently organized a “prep call” between Dorpalen and other attendees (including Julia Gordon, the Director of Housing Finance and Policy at the Center for American Progress) to discuss the event.

The agenda, attached to the e-mail about the call, was not provided in the response to Judicial Watch. However, the email suggests that information regarding an unspecified, proposed CFPB rule would be discussed on the call and that Muniz did not want to address the issue via e-mail.

The National Housing Resource Center is a project of the George Soros-funded Tides Foundation. It apparently began operation in early 2012 – the same time that ACORN’s previous housing-related spinoff, Affordable Housing Centers of America, closed its doors.  The NHRC operates as a lobbyist for the housing counseling industry and includes among its accomplishments the securing of $25 million in additional grant funding for housing counselors from the Treasury Department and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). NHRC Executive Director Dorpalen has visited the White House on at least five occasions, including a November 2012 meeting with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling.

The ACORN network has a long and close relationship to President Obama.  ACORN’s efforts, many contend, to push unaffordable mortgages help contribute the recent housing market crash.

“These smoking-gun documents show the continued collusion among Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Renewal, the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Administration and ACORN spinoffs – and strongly indicate that Barack Obama is still determined to turn the federal government’s housing policy over to the far left,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “How is it, after the scandals of ACORN and its contribution to the housing crash, that this organization’s former leadership is still able to guide federal housing policy?  It goes to show that Barack Obama truly is the president from ACORN.”

 

 

President Obama and more than a dozen U.S. government agencies participated in a Washington D.C. conference that featured a keynote speaker—a black activist who headed the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)—who made racist remarks about whites.

It gets better; American taxpayers helped fund the annual event, put on by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), a group that aims to improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities. Each exhibitor paid $2,000 to participate in the yearly showcase which is billed as one of the largest gatherings of African American professionals. Eighteen federal agencies took part, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).     

The $36,000 that the government spent to take part in this event doesn’t even count employee compensation, the cost of handouts at exhibitor booths, transportation and other planning expenses that usually go into these sorts of activities. It’s safe to bet the figure is much higher. The mainstream media didn’t show much interest in the annual shindig until Obama delivered a “fiery” speech on the last day focusing on healthcare and gun control.

But a few days earlier, Bertha Lewis, the former CEO of ACORN, the famously corrupt community group with strong ties to Obama, took the stage. Though ignored by the mainstream media, her speech was far more newsworthy than Obama’s tired partisan rhetoric. Lewis urged blacks to support increased immigration as a way to gain political power against whites. “We got some Latino cousins, we got some Asian cousins, we got some Native-American cousins, we got all kind of cousins,” Lewis said. “Cousins need to get together because if we’re going to be [part of the non-white] majority, it makes sense for black people in this country to get down with immigration reform.”

Lewis continued: “Everyone, even all white folks in this country, acknowledge that in a minute, [the] United States of America will be a new majority, will be majority minority, a brand-new thing.” In 2012, “for the first time ever in history, African-Americans outvoted white Americans. Oooh. That’s the fear of the white man. That could change everything. That’s why [immigration] should matter to us.” Read the whole story about Lewis’s enlightening speech in this political news site.

The CBCF has the right to invite whoever it wants to address its annual convention, but public funds should not in any way be used to support this kind of discrimination against any group. Furthermore, the nation’s commander-in-chief should certainly not be part of it. It’s bad enough that he has strong ties to ACORN, a group so corrupt that Congress cut all of its public funding, forcing it to transform into various spinoffs that still get lots of taxpayer dollars. Read all about it in a Judicial Watch special report, “The Rebranding of ACORN.”

Top HUD official transferred more than $200,000 from ACORN spin-off AHCOA for activities of “former AHCOA affiliates” 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revealing that on February 12, 2013, HUD Assistant Secretary for Office of Housing Counseling Sarah Gerecke may have violated federal law by requesting that $201,222.07 be transferred from the account of the defunct Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA), an ACORN spin-off, to HUD intermediary Mission for Peace “to specifically pay for the activities of former AHCOA affiliates.”

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According to the documents, obtained pursuant to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on May 16, 2013, the Gerecke memo requesting the transfer appears to have been in violation of the first continuing resolution of FY 13. That resolution continued funding levels under the FY 2012 appropriations bills, which provided that no HUD funds “made available under this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries.”

The Gerecke memo sent to Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner Carol J. Galante, an Obama appointee, through Acting General Deputy Assistant Secretary of Housing Laura M. Marin stated:

In March 2012, HUD’s Program Support Division (PSD) received notice that Affordable Housing Centers of American (AHCOA) had closed and would no longer participate in the HUD Housing Counseling Program. Upon closing, AHCOA had a balance of $201,222.07 in its account.

The Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) is requesting to transfer, under the ‘replacement grant” rule, the AHCOA balance of $201,222.07 to MOP to specifically pay for the activities of the former AHCOA affiliates. PSD met with the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Budget and Field Resources to confirm transfer was allowable.

According to records obtained by Judicial Watch dated February 19, 2013, the funds were to be transferred to Mission of Peace President and CEO Reverend Elmira Smith-Vincent in Flint, Michigan.  A Line of Credit Control System Treasury Detail memo obtained by Judicial Watch confirmed that the transfer had been made on February 25, 2013.

After a series of scandals triggered the collapse of ACORN in late 2009, what was previously called ACORN Housing was renamed Affordable Housing Centers of America in early 2010. Former ACORN Housing president Alton Bennett retained the same position with AHCOA, as did executive director Mike Shea and vice president Dorothy Amadi.  Public affairs director Bruce Dorpalen was formerly ACORN Housing’s loan director.

Months later, in April 2010, California Rep. Darrell Issa, then the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a Committee investigative report stating, “Committee investigators have discovered that Affordable Housing Centers of America, Inc. maintains the same Tax Identification Number as ACORN Housing, Inc., its predecessor. This means that, for tax purposes, Affordable Housing Centers of America and ACORN Housing are the same.” According to Fox News, Issa later said, “Just as criminals change their aliases, ACORN is changing its name. But make no mistake about it, just because they change their name, doesn’t mean anything has really changed at all.”

In a September 21, 2010, a HUD Inspector General report noted that ACORN Housing, “now operating as Affordable Housing Centers of America misappropriated funds from a $3,252,399 federal grant.” Despite this finding, the GAO issued a conflicting advisory opinion saying that AHCOA was not, for the purposes of the funding ban, a subsidiary of ACORN.  NeighborWorks America, a taxpayer-funded private/public entity, concluded that giving taxpayer funds to the ACORN-front would be in violation of federal law.

“Barack Obama is truly the president from ACORN – as this illegal funding by his administration of these ACORN fronts shows,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And at the same time we learn that the Obama administration is unleashing a vast new federal program to force ‘low-income’ housing into every single community in America, we find out that HUD is continuing illegally to fund ACORN spin-offs committed to carrying out Obama’s dictums. This is not a coincidence.”

In August 2011, Judicial Watch released a special report on ACORN spin-offs entitled “The Rebranding of ACORN.” The report concluded, “What was previously called ACORN Housing was renamed Affordable Housing Centers of America … New and existing ACORN ‘spin-offs’ are alive and well and will surely continue to flaunt state and federal laws … In the words of [former chief executive officer of ACORN] Bertha Lewis, ‘[We have created] 18 bulletproof community-organizing Frankensteins that they’re going to have a very hard time attacking.’”

The Obama Administration has given a former director at the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) nearly half a billion dollars to offer “struggling” Illinois homeowners mortgage assistance, a Judicial Watch investigation has found.

It means the ACORN official (Joe McGavin) will go from operating a corrupt leftist community group that’s banned by Congress from receiving federal funding to controlling over $445 million in U.S. taxpayer funds.  The money is part of a $7.6 billion Treasury Department program to help the “unemployed or substantially underemployed” make their mortgage payments.

In this case, JW found that a subcomponent of the state-run Illinois Housing Development Authority, known as the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, received a generous $445,603,557 Treasury infusion. The Obama Administration established Hardest Hit in 2010 to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hardest by the economic and housing market downturn, according to its website.   

In early 2011 McGavin was appointed as director of Hardest Hit. Before that he was director of counseling for ACORN Housing in Chicago and operations manager for a Chicago ACORN offshoot called Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA). His strong ties to ACORN make him a suspect candidate to handle such a huge amount of taxpayer dollars.

The Obama-tied community organization supposedly shut down after a series of exposés about its illegal activities, including fraudulent voter registration drives and involvement in the housing market meltdown. Read all about it in Judicial Watch’s special report, “The Rebranding of ACORN.” The legal scandals led Congress to pass a 2009 law banning federal funding for ACORN, which for years enjoyed a huge flow of taxpayer dollars to promote its various leftwing causes.

The Obama Administration has violated the congressional ACORN funding ban, however. Last summer Judicial Watch uncovered records that show ACORN got tens of thousands of dollars in grants to “combat housing and lending discrimination.” The money came via Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which awarded a $79,819 grant to AHCOA.

In addition to violating the ACORN funding ban, the grant was astounding because federal investigators had previously exposed fraud by the same Florida-based ACORN/AHCOA affiliate. HUD’s inspector general found that the group “inappropriately” spent more than $3.2 million in grants that were supposed to be used to eliminate lead poisoning in its housing program.

 

 

 

 

The Obama-tied community organization famous for operating fraudulent voter registration drives during the 2008 presidential campaign is suing a state for failing to offer voter registration services at public welfare agencies.

New England United 4 Justice (NEU4J), a reincarnation of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), has joined forces with several other civil rights groups to sue Massachusetts for disenfranchising millions of low-income citizens by not registering them to vote during visits to welfare offices where they collect free taxpayer services. Specifically, this means poor ethnic minorities who traditionally vote Democrat.

This sort of minority disenfranchisement widens the gap between the registration rates of high and low-income individuals, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court this month. The 32-page complaint was posted by a national legal newswire that quotes a state welfare official indirectly committing to remedy the situation; “voting is one of the most important civic duties, and helping people comply is one of our top priorities,” the official proclaimed.

NEU4J is the reincarnation of ACORN in New England, according to a Judicial Watch analysis of records. Its president, Maude Hurd, was previously the national president of ACORN and a board member at ACORN Housing.  Its executive director is Noemi Ramos, who was ACORN Boston’s head organizer, and its vice president is former ACORN Massachusetts President Sandra Ramgeet. Much like ACORN, NEU4J promotes social justice by representing low and moderate income families.

This is scandalous because ACORN supposedly shut down after a series of exposés about its illegal activities, including fraudulent voter registration drives and involvement in the housing market meltdown. Read all about it in Judicial Watch’s special report, “The Rebranding of ACORN.” The legal scandals led Congress to pass a 2009 law banning federal funding for the Chicago-based community activist organization with strong ties to the president. For years ACORN enjoyed a huge flow of taxpayer dollars to promote its various leftwing causes.

The Obama Administration has violated the congressional ACORN funding ban, however. Last summer Judicial Watch uncovered records that show ACORN got tens of thousands of dollars in grants to “combat housing and lending discrimination.” The money came via Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which awarded a $79,819 grant to yet another ACORN reincarnation called Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA).

In addition to violating the ACORN funding ban, the grant was astounding because federal investigators had previously exposed fraud by the same Florida-based ACORN/AHCOA affiliate. HUD’s inspector general found that the group “inappropriately” spent more than $3.2 million in grants that were supposed to be used to eliminate lead poisoning in its housing program.

 

ACORN Documents from the Federal Election Commission

The following documents were obtained from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website and are in the public domain. The cases outlined below are examples of FEC’s apparent inability to thoroughly examine complaints. In each of these three complaints filed against ACORN, a number of charges were brought. In every case, the FEC relied on statements from the accused party(ies) as enough grounds to dismiss the allegations.

Matter Under Review 5820, Florida

In September 2006, a complaint was filed accusing ACORN of engaging in “A Coordinated Campaign With The Express Purpose of Defeating Republican Candidates for Federal Office and Supporting Democrat Candidates For Federal Office.” Specifically, ACORN’s Florida branch was accused of preparing campaign plans that stated objectives including “defeat George W. Bush and other Republicans by increasing Democrat turnout” and “increase voter turnout of working class, mainly Democrat voters without increasing opposition turnout.” Since ACORN and Project Vote are not registered as political action committees (which is required for political organizations that make more than $1000 per year), they are not legally allowed to participate in campaign activities. In addition, ACORN and Project Vote failed to file expenditure reports and Statements of Organization with the FEC.

The case was never fully investigated by the FEC, as ACORN stated that the campaign plan designed to defeat Republicans was a “draft” and that the questionable material had been removed. The FEC did not examine the matter of failing to file expenditure reports or Statements of Organization, and the case was dropped in November 2006.

Related Documents

Matter Under Review 5843, Missouri

The Missouri Republican Senate Committee filed a complaint with the FEC in October 2006. Like the case in Florida, ACORN and one of its affiliates, Give Missourians a Raise, Inc., were accused of failing to file their expenditure reports with the FEC. Again, ACORN was also accused of failing to register as a political committee.

Give Missourians a Raise, Inc. was accused because its workers were directed to “solicit votes for Democorat candidate for the U.S. Senate, Claire McCaskill.” This was well documented by a group of workers from Give Missourans a Raise who protested the involvement with elections. One employee, Josephine Perkins, suggested that “this was a willful and knowing violation of the Act by Acorn.” Perkins stated in the video that, “If you go out and you are working for Give Missourians a Raise you cannot have Claire McCaskill’s campaign in the same spot…The funds allocated for the minimum wage is for the minimum wage, not to campaign for Claire McCaskill.”

The FEC dropped the case almost immediately without investigating it after ACORN denied the accusations. Since the youtube video quoted in the complaint was primarily addressing employees not getting paid, the FEC chose to ignore the statements concerning unfair campaign practices. When Give Missourians a Raise was asked about the complaint they “go so far as to assert that the complaint is ‘as thin as homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.’” Their quote, originally from Abraham Lincoln, apparently was enough for the FEC to dismiss the matter.

Related Documents

Matter Under Reivew 5859, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, Congressman Jim Gerlach submitted a complaint in October 2006. He accused ACORN of “illegally coordinating activities” with Lois Murphy, a candidate for congress. Under 11 CFR 114.4(c)(6), corporations such as ACORN are not allowed to endorse candidates. Gerlach states, “The regulations were clearly intended to prevent these organizations from illegally coordinating with a federal campaign as a way of evading the very strict limits of both the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.” As proof, Gerlach cited a press release from ACORN: “The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) endorsed Lois Murphy for Congress. Lois will join members of ACORN to canvass in Pottstown following the endorsement today. Lois and ACORN will be reaching out to members of the community to talk about minimum wage, education, and health care.”

The FEC dismissed the accusation, again by using statements submitted by ACORN saying they had done nothing wrong. Apparently, “the Murphy Campaign incorrectly identified ACORN in its press release as the entity that endorsed Candidate Murphy, when it was actually a related state political committee…Pennsylvania ACORN…that made the endorsement.” The FEC does not address the ACORN press release stating they had endorsed Murphy, or specify whether they examined the press release to see whether ACORN or Pennsylvania ACORN issued the release.

Related Documents

On May 1, 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS), asking for documents on grants given to ACORN. CNCS handles the programs and paperwork for national grants, including AmeriCorps grants. On June 1, 2009, CNCS produced documents.

The documents revealed that ACORN Housing, ACORN’s sister organization, is ineligible for grants because of its abuse of an AmeriCorps grant:

“ACORN Housing, an affiliate of ACORN was funded by CNCS in 1994/1995. ACORN Housing was accused of using the funds for protests…Following an issuance of subpoenas by CNS’s Inspector General, CNS and ACORN Housing agreed to stop the AmeriCorps grant. CNCS later recovered more than $16,000 of funds that were improperly spent.” (page 4)

While ACORN’s main advocacy group has not received funding since 1997, other affiliates still receive grant money from CNCS. Among the documents obtained from CNCS is an email listing a grant given to Detroit ACORN. Given the massive number of affiliates ACORN has (estimates are anywhere from 150 to over 300 affiliates), there are almost certainly other grants being awarded to them.

ACORN may also benefit from CNCS grants by partnering or working under other groups. A member of CNCS confirmed in an email that “a small number of individuals served at ACORN sites through the Education Award Program in the past few years, as a site of American Humanics” (page 5). There is no definitive information on how prevalent this occurrence is, or how much money goes to these grants.

Due to ACORN Housing’s violation, the AmeriCorps grant program no longer provides any funding to ACORN, according to an email from AmeriCorp’s Deputy Director Lois Nembhard. “[State] and [National] hasn’t funded ACORN directly since before my time here.” (page 29) However, Nembhard acknowledged that she was unsure if ACORN was receiving funding through its affiliates and subgroups. Affiliates of ACORN still have other grants through CNCS, including Detroit ACORN, which has an open National Direct grant.

Below are excerpts shedding further light on ACORN and its eligibility for funding under AmeriCorps and other grant laws through CNCS.

Email from Adam Briddell, Senate HELP Committee:

“Can you send me some bullets/facts on how/why ACORN isn’t/can’t get national service dollars? Can’t believe this has blown up…” (page 11)

Response from Frank Trinity, Counsel for CNCS

  • In 1995, the first year of the AmeriCorps program, ACORN Housing – a separate organization from ACORN – received a grant to provide housing counseling to low-income individuals.
  • Based on information provided by the Corporation’s Inspector General that the two organizations had not maintained appropriate separation, the Corporation suspended the grant.
  • Thereafter, the grant was terminated and ACORN repaid the Federal government were unallowable costs (sic).” (page 13)

Trinity also provided a “Summary and Chronology of Events Related to ACORN Housing’s AmeriCorps Grant” (pages 17, 18).

To follow up on the information produced, Judicial Watch submitted another Freedom of Information Act requesting the following:

  1. All documents concerning ACORN Housing and misconduct/violation of grant stipulations.
  2. All documents concerning CNCS’s investigation of ACORN Housing.
  3. All audit reports of ACORN Housing Corporation.

This request was sent on July 28, 2009.

Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) related to the 2007 investigation and arrest of eight St. Louis, Missouri, workers from the “community organization” Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for violation of election laws and voter fraud.

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