Topic category: Government/Politics
Is ACORN 8 Leader Marcel Reid "John Doe" and/or a True Reformer?
Marcel Reid is the head of the ACORN 8 and the DC Chapter of ACORN. She has been with ACORN for years and served on the ACORN national board until she was removed last year.
For months Ms. Reid has been publicly calling for truth, transparency and accountability within ACORN.
That's also undisputed.
After Fox News personality Glenn Beck discovered this year that ACORN is a big problem and was told (off air) by ACORN national spokesman Scott Levenson that he is "afraid of black people," Beck took to championing the ACORN 8 in general and Ms. Reid in particular, calling for donations to and free legal services for the ACORN 8 and repeatedly calling Ms. Reid "Rosa Parks."
But how much reform, truth, transparency and accountability does Ms. Reid really want?
The answer seems to be less than I first thought.
My "ACORN 8's Dilemma" article posted on February 2, 2009, acknowledged that "[t]he ACORN 8 have a noble goal" while asking whether they would "dare to do what is necessary to attain it," because "telling the whole truth is necessary to attaining their goal, but it also is disillusioning AND dangerous."
A revision of an online petition that ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief had drafted and Ms. MonCrief and ACORN 8 leaders Reid and Karen Inman had signed concerned me.
Ms. MonCrief's petition boldly called for stopping a "payoff" to ACORN, not mere "funding" to ACORN.
"'Payoff' is a loaded word, but it seems to me to be the right word.
"ACORN IS expecting a payoff from the Obama campaign and Congressional Democrats.
"ACORN delivered big time for them.
"And President Obama lied about his relationship with ACORN, even during the third presidential debate.
"Apparently the ACORN 8 decided that the word 'payoff' suggested a complicity that at least some of them did not want to suggest.
"'Truth and transparency,' ACORN 8!
"The WHOLE truth."
Retreat from the use of the word "payoff" appears to be symptomatic of an unwillingness to stand tall and tell all.
Who is "John Doe" in Project Vote v. MonCrief and Doe?"
That's the lawsuit filed on June 17, 2009 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to intimidate or at least distract ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief, addressed by Michelle Malkin in "Project Vote sues whistleblower: ObamACORN bully tactics exposed," June 22, 2009 (http://michellemalkin.com/2009/06/22/project-vote-sues-whistleblower-obamacorn-bully-tactics-exposed/).
"...taxpayer-subsidized ACORN affiliate Project Vote ó where President Obama cut his teeth as a community organizer and learned Leftist intimidation tactics up close and personal ó is going after whistleblower Anita MonCrief and an anonymous 'John Doe' defendant for posting invaluable documents that reveal the money-shuffling racket."
"You donít have to be a lawyer to see that this is a blatant act of retaliation...."
"This is what ObamACORN bullying looks like."
After the filing of the suit was reported, Marcel Reid admirer Nancy Armstrong, aka "Ms Placed Democrat," in "Washington Examinerís Kevin Mooney Misquotes The ACORN-8 Again!" (http://msplaceddemocrat.com/), indicated that Ms. Reid could not be "John Doe."
"Ms. Anita MonCrief has never been a member of the ACORN-8. She is an individual who decided to come forward on her own to uncover the graft and corruption within Project Vote, an affiliate of ACORN.
"All the members of the ACORN-8 worked for ACORN directly and have no knowledge of Project Vote. And likewise Ms. Anita MonCrief has no knowledge of the role these former ACORN board members played within the boardroom of ACORN."
The first paragraph quoted above IS true.
The second paragraph quoted above, italics and boldness in original notwithstanding, is not.
It may be true that none of the ACORN 8 members ever worked for ACORN affiliate Project Vote, but it does not follow that none of them had "knowledge of Project Vote" and, given the nature of ACORN and their former ACORN board member status, it is not plausible.
Likewise, it may be true that Ms. MonCrief was not present during any ACORN board meeting, but it does not follow that Ms. MonCrief has no knowledge of what "former ACORN board members" did "within the boardroom of ACORN."
Ms. Armstrong's implicit insistence that neither Ms. Reid nor any other ACORN 8 members shared information or documents pertaining to what went on "within the boardroom of ACORN" with Ms. MonCrief and Ms. MonCrief did not share information and documents with respect to Project Vote with Ms. Reid or any other ACORN 8 member should not be believed.
Both Ms. MonCrief and Ms. Reid were confidential sources for New York Times national correspondent Stephanie Strom last summer and fall.
After Election Day 2008, Ms. MonCrief and Ms. Reid continued to cooperate with each other in exposing ACORN wrongdoing.
That cooperation was acknowledged by Ms. Reid in a "checking in" email to Ms. MonCrief dated January 13, 2009 in which Ms. Reid stated:
"I certainly understand your concerns Anita. These are the same concerns I have. It seems that only a few of us are out in front. Any everyone else is either pushing from the sidelines or pissed-off that we[']re not doing enough."
"I have the National Board committee list....
"We have made a difference and they cannot deny. Pray on it, sleep on it. Whatever you do you have my support."
BUT: There IS a huge difference: Ms. MonCrief became disillusioned as the Age of Obama unfolded and has been telling the whole ugly truth instead of trying to protect President Obama or his friends, while Ms. Reid has remained an enthusiastic Obama supporter hoping to head ACORN and has targeted selectively.
On July 9, 2009, Kevin Mooney wrote about Ms. MonCrief 's "conversion" in the Washington Examiner, in an article titled "ACORN whistleblower MonCrief now identifies with conservative cause."
ď'Iíve always been an outsider in my party because I ask a lot of questions and I didnít like some of the answers Iíve been getting,' [Ms. MonCrief] said. 'The problem I have with Democrats is that they promise you the world but then they donít deliver. I identify now with conservative ideas because the answer is not social welfare. The answer instead comes from being less dependent on the government and keeping families together.'
"MonCrief now plans to drop her party registration as a Democrat but is not quite ready to embrace Republicans. Instead she is more inclined to be an independent, unaffiliated voter. However, MonCrief does see an opportunity for Republicans to connect better with African-American voters who actually share the partyís convictions on key issues. This can happen if Republicans adopt a better communications strategy, she added.
"MonCrief also said she very supportive of the ACORN 8 whistleblower group that came together last year in response to an embezzlement scandal involving the national organizationís top officials. But she is not part of ACORN 8 and prefers to chart her own path.
ď'While we are fighting the same cause, my beliefs and viewpoints have changed and I have moved more to the right in my thinking,' MonCrief said. 'I am an ex-liberal trying to find my way.'
"[T]he same cause" is replacing the current ACORN control group.
On that, Ms. MonCrief and the ACORN 8 were and still are in full agreement.
But Ms. MonCrief wants real reform, a thorough housecleaning and truth, transparency and accountability BY ACORN, not just within ACORN.
Ms. MonCrief does NOT want ACORN to continue to be "an unofficial arm of the Democratic Party" with different people in control.
Glenn Beck does not want ACORN to be a huge Democrat scandal...but it is and former lifelong Democrat Ms. MonCrief is not pretending otherwise!
As to Ms. Reid's selective targeting, look at the complaint filed with the United States Justice Department by the ACORN 8, dated January 7, 2009 and posted at the ACORN 8 website (www.acorn-8.net).
The ACORN 8, as "complainants," named Wade Rathke, Dale Rathke, Steven Kest, John Kest, Mike Shea, Zach Pollett, Helene O'Brien, Amy Schur, Liz Wolf, Beth Butler, Mildred Brown, Maud Hurd, Alton Bennett, Bertha Lewis, Beth Kingsley and other unknown individuals as "defendants."
The complaint purports to be a "criminal complaint against ACORN Staff and Executive Board members for fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy and concealment, and civil rights violations," and "possible...other federal offenses...including but not limited to; Title 18 U.S.C. ß1341, Mail Fraud, 18 U.S.C. ß1001, Presenting a False Document to...an Agent of the United States Government; 18 U.S.C. ß1027 False statements and concealment of facts in relation to documents required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and other possible offenses including civil and/or criminal violations."
BUT (I recently learned): A prior signed version of this complaint read: "ACORN Staff members Steven Kest, Jon Kest, Madeline Talbott, Keith Kelleher, Mike Shea, Zach Pollett, Helene OíBrien, Amy Schur, Liz Wolf, Beth Butler, Mildred Brown and Bertha Lewis knew but conspired to conceal the embezzlement and decided to keep the information from the full Association Board and not to alert law enforcement."
Ms. Talbott and Mr. Kelleher are not included in the complaint as filed.
BUT: On January 6, 2009, Ms. Reid had emailed Ms. MonCrief the prior version of the complaint with this message: "Here is the complaint I would file on January 7, 2009. We don't have all of the exhibits prepared exactly like Zena wants --but I personally would not let that delay us."
Why were these Ms. Talbott and Mr. Kelleher dropped as "defendants" right before the complaint was filed?
Why did Ms. Reid decide NOT to "alert law enforcement" about what she believed at least as late as January 6, 2009 to be "criminal conduct" by Ms. Talbott and Mr. Kelleher?
As descriptions of these two persons (who are married to each other), take what they themselves provided for an article they issued in 2000 under the title "The People Shall Rule: Holding Public Officials Accountable in Chicago":
"Keith Kelleher is the head organizer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 880 and has been a field organizer, lead organizer and head organizer for ACORN, the United Labor Unions (ULU), and SEIU Local 880 for over 20 years.
"Madeline Talbott is the head organizer for Illinois ACORN and has been a field organizer, lead organizer and head organizer in many ACORN cities across the country. She recently celebrated her 25th year as an organizer with ACORN."
Do you think these people's connection to President Obama influenced the last minute decision not to include them as defendants in the complaint?
Consider some pertinent facts.
With respect to the Obama-Talbott connection, the New York Post article by Stanley Kurtz titled "O's Dangerous Pals" (http://www.nypost.com/seven/09292008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/os_dangerous_pals_131216.htm?page=0) is most illuminating.
"ONE key pioneer of ACORN's subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott - an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae's mortgage policies.
"Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in 'direct action' - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a 'living wage' law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans."
"IT would be tough to find an 'on the ground' community organizer more closely tied to the subprime-mortgage fiasco than Madeline Talbott. And no one has been more supportive of Madeline Talbott than Barack Obama.
"When Obama was just a budding community organizer in Chicago, Talbott was so impressed that she asked him to train her personal staff.
"He returned to Chicago in the early '90s, just as Talbott was starting her pressure campaign on local banks. Chicago ACORN sought out Obama's legal services for a 'motor voter' case and partnered with him on his 1992 'Project VOTE' registration drive.
"In those years, he also conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN's up-and-coming organizers. That is, Obama was training the army of ACORN organizers who participated in Madeline Talbott's drive against Chicago's banks.
"More than that, Obama was funding them. As he rose to a leadership role at Chicago's Woods Fund, he became the most powerful voice on the foundation's board for supporting ACORN and other community organizers. In 1995, the Woods Fund substantially expanded its funding of community organizers - and Obama chaired the committee that urged and managed the shift.
"That committee's report on strategies for funding groups like ACORN features all the key names in Obama's organizer network. The report quotes Talbott more than any other figure; Sandra Maxwell, Talbott's ACORN ally in the bank battle, was also among the organizers consulted.
"MORE, the Obama-supervised Woods Fund report acknowledges the problem of getting donors and foundations to contribute to radical groups like ACORN - whose confrontational tactics often scare off even liberal donors and foundations.
"Indeed, the report brags about pulling the wool over the public's eye. The Woods Fund's claim to be 'nonideological,' it says, has 'enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and government "establishments" without undue risk of being criticized for partisanship.'"
"The Woods Fund report makes it clear Obama was fully aware of the intimidation tactics used by ACORN's Madeline Talbott in her pioneering efforts to force banks to suspend their usual credit standards. Yet he supported Talbott in every conceivable way. He trained her personal staff and other aspiring ACORN leaders, he consulted with her extensively, and he arranged a major boost in foundation funding for her efforts.
"And, as the leader of another charity, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama channeled more funding Talbott's way - ostensibly for education projects but surely supportive of ACORN's overall efforts.
"In return, Talbott proudly announced her support of Obama's first campaign for state Senate, saying, 'We accept and respect him as a kindred spirit, a fellow organizer.'"
Consider also admissions by Ms. Talbott herself on the Obama-Talbott connection, at http://progressivesforobama.net/2008/10/14/gop-southern-strategy-revisited-mccains-anti-black-ploy-vs-acorn/#more-343
"So who is Madeline Talbott? Check out www.madelinetalbott.com. Anyway, canít tell if I was supposed to have corrupted Barack Obama or he was supposed to have corrupted me. It seems that there is this logical progression: 1) Madeline Talbott hired Barack Obama to train her staff (false, but it wouldnít have been a bad idea, as he was a good man and a talented community organizer; just so happened that Barack Obama was a competitor to ACORN when I was there, and a darned good one, and I kept an eye on him because he moved more people and had more success in making positive community change. Much later, I did invite him in to be a guest in a session we had for about 15 of our volunteer community members, for one hour one year and another hour a year or two later. Of course we didnít hire him or pay him and he talked with us for an hour each time. I never attempted to hire Barack Obama because it was inconceivable, we were operating in different circles, it would have been an insulting offer.")
Why would Ms. Reid and her seven allies on the ACORN 8 national board (there are 30 dues-paying members!) target some "criminals" and give a pass to Ms. Talbott and her husband?
Would Rosa Parks have done that?
Would a true reformer have done that?
If only Glenn Beck was less gullible and had more "common sense" and humility!
Michael J. Gaynor
Biography - Michael J. Gaynor
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.
Gaynor's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.