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Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) leaders are using the threat of a law suit to silence and intimidate critics, according to current and former members of the liberal activist group. In a letter dated June 11 an attorney for ACORN advised top whistleblowers that their unauthorized use of the organization’s name could make them liable for monetary damages and injunctive relief.
ACORN executives have also changed their organization’s name, which was tarnished by investigations in at least 14 states of allegations of voter registration fraud during the 2008 presidential campaign, and charges by current and former members of financial mismanagement and misrepresentation.
The new name will let ACORN leaders continue their operations without worrying about prior bad publicity, according to Marcel Reid of ACORN 8, a group of present and former members. “We’ve known for many months now that the name ACORN is going to be retired,” Reid said. “The name has been so damaged to the point where the leadership knows it simply can’t go on as it has with the ACORN label out front and center, especially after all of the reporting.”
Reid also said ACORN is in the process of dismantling Citizen’s Consulting Inc. (CCI), a New-Orleans based non-profit, which has been used to maintain centralized financial control, ACORN 8 activists claim. Tax records show that CCI is interlinked with several ACORN affiliates.
Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled almost $1 million from the organization in 1999 and 2000, while he was employed as the organization’s chief financial officer with the CCI affiliate. For almost a decade Wade Rathke and other staff members concealed the embezzlement from ACORN’s board of trustees, according to the criminal complaint ACORN 8 members filed against the organization.