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The $5 million ACORN embezzlement figure is not new — and the NYT knows it

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 5, 2009 11:12 PM


Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports tonight that the ACORN/Rathke embezzlement sum was $5 million, not the widely cited $1 million figure admitted publicly to date by the left-wing racketeering group.

But guess what? The figure is not new — and it is not news to the whitewashers at the New York Times. More on that in a moment. First the Times-Picayune story:

Louisiana’s attorney general has broadened the scope of an investigation of ACORN to include a possible embezzlement of $5 million a decade ago within the community organization, five times more than previously reported.

ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis said the new reported amount is “completely false.”

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has been conducting an investigation of ACORN since June. He issued subpoenas in August seeking documents related to former ACORN International President Wade Rathke and his brother Dale Rathke, who kept the group’s books. Those subpoenas were focused on possible ACORN violations for non-payment of employee withholding taxes, obstructing justice and violating the Employee Retirement Security Act. No charges have been made.

The attorney general had inquired in June into an alleged embezzlement within ACORN that happened 10 years ago. The group last year dealt with an internal dispute and a lawsuit involving accusations that Dale Rathke made nearly $1 million in improper credit card charges in 1999 and 2000. The brother and a donor repaid the money.

Laughably, the New York Times runs its own brief story tonight (without crediting the Times-Picayune) and regurgitates ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis’s spin:

Amount Embezzled From Acorn Is Disputed

An internal review at Acorn, the embattled community organizing group, revealed that its founder’s brother had embezzled $5 million from the group, five times more than the amount disclosed, according to a subpoena served Monday by the Louisiana attorney general. But the organization’s chief executive denied that any internal review had revealed that figure.

The subpoena, part of an investigation into accusations of state tax violations and obstruction of justice at Acorn, said the internal review was raised in a board meeting in October 2008 that was attended by Bertha Lewis, the chief executive.

“Current high-ranking members of Acorn have publicly acknowledged that the embezzlement did in fact occur, but the exact amount of the embezzlement was unknown,” the subpoena said. “It is still unclear if some of the monies embezzled are from state, federal or private funds.”

In a phone interview, Ms. Lewis acknowledged that the internal review found that Dale Rathke, brother of Wade Rathke, the founder of Acorn, had embezzled money from Acorn and affiliated charitable organizations in 1999 and 2000. But she said that the review had found that the amount embezzled was a little less than $1 million, a figure that has already been publicly disclosed and acknowledged.

She said the $5 million figure came from two former directors who had since been voted off the board.

“Wherever they got that is absolutely false,” Ms. Lewis said.

Now, the rest of the story that the New York Times won’t tell you.

Former ACORN/Project Vote worker Anita MonCrief — the independent whistleblower who worked closely with NYTimes reporter Stephanie Strom on exposing ACORN financial shenanigans last year before Times editors “cut bait” just weeks before Election Day — informed Strom that the true figure was $5 million.

MonCrief also reported the $5 million figure to Warner Todd Huston in April 2009.

Hey, New York Times conservative media monitor: Why don’t you ask Strom about this? Why don’t you ask MonCrief?

Michael McCray of the ACORN 8 had also reported the $5 million figure in an interview with blogger Doug Ross in July 2009:

Q: One of the complaints we’ve heard related to funding among all of the various ACORN-related entities. What were some of the more egregious activities you saw perpetrated by top management?

A: Well the multi-million embezzlement and 8 year cover up has to lead the list of egregious illegal conduct. The embezzlement was publicly reported to be $1 million, however the board was notified that the true number was at least $5 million.

Senior Staff and the Executive Committee knew about the embezzlement and covered it up for eight years.

We believe that any participated in, benefited from or knew about and withheld information about the embezzlement from the board should be terminated and/or removed from any association with ACORN. We demanded a forensic examination and independent financial audit of ACORN and all of its related entities to ferret out the wrongdoers.

Michael Gaynor noted at the time in response to McCray: “Tellingly, Mr. McCray did NOT complain about keeping the information from prosecutors and the public. Perhaps that is because ACORN 8 leaders also kept important information from prosecutors and the public and put off the possibility of legal action to protect then presidential candidate Obama’s election prospects. Incredibly, Mr. McCray essentially claimed that bad leadership is ACORN’s only problem. Mr. McCray admitted that the ACORN 8 are out to replace the current ACORN control group, but the ideological difference is limited…Mr. McCray and the ACORN 8 did not complaint that ACORN has functioned wrongfully as an unofficial arm of the Democrat Party for many years. Instead, Mr. McCray celebrated ACORN’s “effectiveness” and complained only about ACORN leadership corruption.

“ACORN is highly effective; my problem is that its leadership has become corrupt,” McCray told Ross.

“But ACORN’s corruption is NOT new and just replacing ACORN’s leadership will not do,” Gaynor responded.

***

In case you missed the ACORN/Rathke special with FNC’s Megyn Kelly over the weekend, find out more here.

Would that more of our lawmakers in Washington truly understood the nature of the beast.

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