“Outside review” of ACORN finds no “pattern of illegality”

We can all rest so much easier now:

An outside review of the beleaguered community group ACORN has found “serious management challenges,” but no pattern of illegal activity.

The review, commissioned by ACORN in the wake of a hidden video expose that showed a few of its employees appearing to offer tips on how to break the law, also largely absolved the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now’s current management, laying much of the blame on founder Wade Rathke for lax oversight and dangerously rapid growth.

Scott Harshbarger, the former Massachusetts attorney who led the inquiry for the Proskauer Rose law firm, found that ACORN is not subject to “basic, appropriate standards of governance and accountability” and suggested specific measures to help restore public confidence.

The review practically absolved ACORN employees caught up in the expose in which a few employees appeared to be offering advice on how to run a brothel.

It also suggested that ACORN should refocus its attention on community organizing, and away from other services. ACORN already announced it would cease offering free tax advice.

Harshbarger called the review “neither an epitaph nor an absolution for ACORN.”

ACORN’s chief executive officer, Bertha Lewis, called the recommendations “a roadmap,” but did not fully commit to following each of Harshbarger’s nine suggestions for reform.

Hmmm. I have about as much confidence in this “outside review” that was “commissioned by ACORN” as I did in the “internal investigation” conducted by then President-elect Obama’s transition office that concluded that there had been no inappropriate conversations between any Obama staff member (namely Rahmbo) and the disgraced former Governor of Illinios Rod Blagojevich. And besides -regarding ACORN, it was not so much about whether or not the “advice” given by the ACORN employees in question was legal, but whether or not they were engaged in ethical and moral wrongdoing and mismanagement at the expense of Joe Taxpayer. As Michael Volpe points out, they most certainly were:

ACORN did in fact engage in no criminal wrongdoing by offering advice to a “pimp” and “prostitute” about how to hide assets and their business practices. Simply offering such advice is not illegal. If that’s what Harschbarger was brought in to do, I could have saved everyone plenty of time. In fact, if that’s what he was investigating, then it’s clear they gave him a scope that would lead to a conclusion that would maximize their positive press. In fact, these videos occurred at no less than five offices. That’s a pattern of behavior for which management, and not merely those on the videos, must take some responsibility. That’s at the heart of the series of exposes by Giles and O’Keefe. It’s not about whether or not the behavior on the videos is or is not technically legal. It’s about what it says about an organization when a “pimp” and “prostitute” can so routinely walk into just about any office and be offered advice that the advisor knows is illegal if implemented. That reality is barely acknowledged and not really addressed.

Read the full report here.

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