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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  October 13, 2009
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Topic category:  Government/Politics

God, ACORN, USCCB and ACORN Whistleblower Anita MonCrief

Given USCCB support of ACORN, it's hardly surprising that ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief was eager to work for ACORN at its national level and "make a difference."

God surely works in mysterious ways.

In June 2008, after giving millions of dollars, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) cut off funds to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

After the ACORN embezzlement scandal had broken, funding that unofficial arm of the Democrat Party, directly or indirectly, became embarrassing instead of seemingly admirable.

On November 11, 2008 (AFTER Election Day 2008), the report of Bishop Roger Morin, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on Catholic Campaign for Human Development on CCHD and ACORN was issued.

The report concluded: "CCHD is fully committed to protecting and carrying out our essential mission 'to bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, new sight to the blind and to set the downtrodden free' (Luke 4). That was Jesus’ mission on earth and that is CCHD’s mission today."

It is a mission to be carried out carefully, not carelessly.

Tragically, the best that the USCCB can claim for itself is that it was "blind" to what ACORN really was.

The report covered "the steps CCHD and our Conference have taken and are taking to address our serious concerns regarding controversies involving the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN," and acknowledged that "CCHD has funded proposals from local organizations affiliated with ACORN when those activities conform to the CCHD guidelines and when the local diocesan CCHD director and the local diocesan bishop explicitly approve the proposal," and insisted that "[m]any of these local ACORN groups have done impressive work preventing home foreclosures, creating jobs opportunities, raising wages, addressing crime and improving education."

The report stated:

"Last June, CCHD cut off funding to all ACORN groups when we learned about a major case of embezzlement eight years ago that was covered up by ACORN staff leadership. This theft and cover-up raised serious concerns about national ACORN's financial accountability, transparency, governance and organizational integrity. Even though CCHD was only funding local ACORN organizations, and not these national structures, we felt it was necessary to cut off CCHD funding and review support of all ACORN groups.

"More recently, the Subcommittee also became concerned about widespread reports of ACORN involvement in alleged voter registration fraud and political partisanship. As a result of the cut-off earlier this year, no CCHD funds were involved in any of these activities. However, the allegations intensified our questions and problems around ACORN’s organizational integrity, competence and non-partisanship. Therefore, we extended the cut off of CCHD funding of any ACORN organizations.

"The Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee met November 8-9 and reviewed this matter at length and discussed it in depth. The Bishop members of the Subcommittee voted unanimously to reaffirm, extend and formalize the decision to end CCHD funding of ACORN organizations because of serious concerns about financial accountability, organizational performance and political partisanship. While not all the specifics can be known, we simply had too many continuing questions and concerns about these serious matters to permit CCHD funding of ACORN groups. Dioceses have told us about the good work done by local ACORN affiliates and we regret that they will not be able to receive CCHD support. We simply could not be absolutely sure that CCHD resources would be used in a manner consistent with our criteria and funding guidelines. This cut off means that no CCHD grants were given to ACORN groups this year (using funds from the 2007 CCHD collection) and no funds from the coming collection (to be taken up in on November 23-24 in many dioceses) will go to ACORN in any place or at any level."

The report emphasized the future:

"In addition to this funding cutoff, the CCHD Subcommittee and staff have taken a number of other steps:

I chair a special working group within the Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee to monitor and act on this continuing situation.

CCHD and the USCCB have secured the services of specialists in forensic accounting to help determine if any CCHD money was taken or misused. This investigation is thorough and ongoing.

CCHD, USCCB staff and I have met with ACORN leaders to express our serious concerns and to seek answers to specific questions.

We continue to consult with our CCHD Diocesan Directors to seek their guidance.

The Subcommittee also voted that CCHD should work with others to assist low-income community organizations to adopt and model best practices in areas of financial accountability, organizational management and effective governance. The Subcommittee believes that these efforts can help community organizations and CCHD to carry out more effectively our essential mission of empowering and assisting low-income communities in pursuing economic and social justice.

CCHD’s current criteria and guidelines prohibit partisan activity and funding of any group that engages in activities contrary to Catholic moral teaching, whether or not those activities are funded by CCHD. These criteria are actively enforced and have led CCHD to deny funding to many groups and to quickly terminate any group that violates these prohibitions. The Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee and staff are reviewing these existing CCHD’s policies, grant agreements, and other safeguards in order to reaffirm and strengthen our protections in areas of Church teaching, financial and organizational accountability, and partisan political activity. We are also examining ways to affirm and articulate the continuing efforts of CCHD in language clearly reflecting the principles of Catholic social teaching, which are at the heart of our mission."

Better late than never!

Report: "More recently, the Subcommittee also became concerned about widespread reports of ACORN involvement in alleged voter registration fraud and political partisanship."

What does THAT mean?

Does it mean that the Subcommittee's concern was the result of (1) "alleged voter registration fraud and political partisanship" or (2) reports of it being "widespread"?

ACORN's involvement in "political partisanship" has never been a secret!

ACORN has been politically partisan since it was created in 1970. It was and is entitled to be politically partisan. It has never been a 501(c)(3) organization.

For the USCCB to claim ignorance of ACORN's "political partisanship" is for it to confess that it failed to conduct even a cursory examination before giving millions of dollars.

That's better than deliberate complicity, of course, but it is mind-boggling.

There were many cases of ACORN voter registration fraud before 2008 and ACORN's radical nature was recognized decades ago.

As I reported in "'Margy the Teacher' Appreciated the ACORN Threat" (October 24, 2008)(www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=081024):

"Margy served on a local school board in Texas from 1978 to 1985 and took her responsibilities seriously.

"In 1980, Margy testified before the Texas State Board of Education, objecting to a page about ACORN in a book titled 'Comparing Political Behavior,”'published by Prentice-Hall.

"Margy had read the Houston Post, now defunct, and kept a copy of an article about ACORN published in the May 6, 1979 edition.

"That article is titled 'Group hopes to gain control of U.S. power' and begins with the ACORN recruiting song: 'Aren’t you tired of seein’ the way that your own country’s being run? For the sake of Monster Profit, they would even steal your son. And if you think it’s bad, well, buster, you can bet it will grow worse. So you better start to organize, or empty out your purse!'

"The lead sentence of the article reported: 'ACORN organizers are taught to be ever aware their goal is to create a massive political pressure group which ultimately will take over the full operation of this country—for the benefit of "low-to-moderate-income" Americans.'"

I also noted in that article:

"In April 1979, ACORN advertised for organizers in 'Mother Jones,' a magazine named after '[p]ioneer socialist Mary Harris "Mother" Jones,' on the same page as the Marxist Guardian, the Anarchist Cookbook and 'readable radical scholarship' were advertised.

"That textbook to which 'Margy the Teacher' objected had a full 'ACORN and Citizenship' page lauding ACORN, deeming 1970 'memorable' because Wade Rathke and other organized ACORN, and concluding: 'Does your community have an organization similar to ACORN? If it does, briefly describe the organization and what it has accomplished. If there is no such organization in your community, think about whether one is needed and the kinds of concerns it could tackle.'

“'Margy the Teacher' also objected to a high school government textbook titled American Political Behavior that recommended Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, an ACORN bible.

"Mr. Alinsky actually suggested using blacks as 'natural stink bombs' so that '[t]he law would be completely paralyzed.'

"From p. 139 of Rules for Radicals: 'I suggested that we might buy one hundred seats for one of Rochester’s symphony concerts. We would select a concert in which the music was relatively quiet. The hundred blacks who would be given the tickets would first be treated to a three-hour pre-concert dinner in the community, in which they would be fed nothing but baked beans, and lots of them; then the people would go to the symphony hall—with obvious consequences. Imagine the scene when the action began! The concert would be over before the first movement! (If this be a Freudian slip—so be it!).'

"The last sentence on p. 139 opined that if Alinsky's 'natural stink bomb' attack were to be executed, '[t]he law would be completely paralyzed.'"

Given USCCB support of ACORN, it's hardly surprising that ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief was eager to work for ACORN at its national level and "make a difference."

Ms. MonCrief did both.

But the biggest difference Ms. MonCrief made was not a difference that either she had expected to make or ACORN had hoped she would make.

Like St. Paul (and Whittaker Chambers too), Ms. MonCrief learned and chose to do what is right.

Recently Ms. MonCrief posted this explanation on her blog, www.anitamoncrief.blogspot.com:

"How This Ex-Liberal Found Fortitude and Her Way Home

"Growing up black and Catholic in the South was an interesting experience that taught me a great deal about people. I believe I spent less than a week in public school before transferring to a private Catholic school and beginning theology classes that still intertwine with my life experience. I remember going to a Baptist funeral and feeling so out of place. The expression of intense emotion was not something that I had never seen in church, the songs were unfamiliar and the style was foreign to me. Growing up poor in a less than ideal family dynamic led for me to crave order and routine. Some friends often remarked about the order of the Mass or told me that it was boring, but to me it was comforting. I knew what was coming and I was ready. Reciting phrases in Latin or receiving Communion were things I trusted and understood.

"Often in interviews I am asked about my conversion from the far left liberal (radical) to the conservative movement and I always think back to first grade. While I had been Catholic all my life, I did not realize it until I went to school. I felt a little lost and very scared. That's how I feel about blacks and conservatism. I left the church as a young woman, the church never changed but my desire not to live by its rules led me to break free.

"Over the years, I have tried and studied other religions but Catholicism is home, and nothing feels like home. As a liberal there was a certain part of me that fought against the world. It was never a fair fight though, because my opinions were set and no amount of proof could change that. As a liberal trying to find her way, I often felt like I was trying on religions again. I didn't fit in, asked lots of questions and was uneasy about my path. Being lost will do that, only I did not know I was on the wrong path. I channeled that anger at the "system" into art work, I went home at night and tried not to think about the moms living on Section 8 in the "projects" who worried about their kids and still tried to look out for me too. I ignored the feelings of desperation when I talked to my young friends, so full of promise but without an adequate foundation to succeed.

"The Democrats seemed to be the answer: social programs, better schools, and politicians who cared. I do think that if I had never seen the other side of community organizing that I would still be blindly following along that same path. Being a conservative gives me hope, and peace. While it has not been easy, I decided to start with what made me love America as a child - its history and Constitution- and go from there. Friends who are still radicals rail at me for loving a country that enslaved us, and I tell them I don't. I love a country that had the guts to stand up time and time again and right a wrong. A country that is not afraid to pick itself up and start again.

"The media, think tanks and leftist organizations paint the right as hate mongers and I believed it for a number of years. Going to events like the Defending the American Dream Summit this past weekend continues to enlighten me. I find warm, regular people who have traveled and taken time off to be there. It was not a gathering of paid hacks, or reporters patting themselves on the back for Van Jones. Moms, dads, nurses, doctors, bloggers and people from all over America, discussed the state of our country and their fears for the world their children would be inheriting.

"Comparing it to a leftist conference I went to in 2007 I was amazed at how helpful and open the staff and sponsors were. No egos here. Tim Phillips went out of his way to accommodate those of us who ended up in the overflow room after an expected surge of attendees. The next day, I spoke on a panel and was overwhelmed by the support in the room. Conservatives seemed to be more accepting of differences and willing to listen and respond to others without attacking or belittling them.

"Putting political ideology aside for a moment, I will tell anyone that there has been a certain amount of inner peace that I have never had before and I have noticed more harmony in my family. For the first time in my adult life I can honestly say that I am not at war with myself or the world. I never knew that by changing my political beliefs that I would find my faith, change the course of my life and end a self destructive pattern of victimhood.'"

Yes indeed: God works in mysterious ways.

George Weigel, there IS cause for hope. Meet Ms. MonCrief."

Weigel, in "The death of Edward Kennedy and the end of an era": "[Senator Kennedy's death] marks--or should mark--the end of an era in which Catholics in the United States identify 'concern for the poor' with big-government-funded and big-government-managed welfare programs. That the well-intentioned initiatives of the Great Society which Ted Kennedy supported, ended up destroying urban neighborhoos and families while creating massive welfare dependency was acknowledged by many, including liberals, during the welfare reform debbates of the mid-1990s--but not by the senior senator from Massachusetts, who was, to put it gently, nowhere near the forefront of the reform movement."

Recently Ms. MonCrief said about the same in poignant posts available at www.anitamoncrief.blogspot.com.

Ms. MonCrief, in "Liberal Fallout Zones" (August 28, 2009):

"Johnson’s 'Great Society' included historic civil rights advances but history has shown that Democrats have a tendency to attach riders to any attempts toward racial progress. Welfare and other social programs like subsidized housing created a dependency on the government that has crippled the ability of these urban areas to survive.

"For instance, subsided housing provided by the government – commonly known as the 'projects' – sprung up all over America after civil rights advances. Poor minorities were told where to live, how many to a household while the government doled out just enough money to keep some of the building from falling apart. During this same period a number of organizations inspired by the Cloward Pivan Strategy sprang up with the intent to add even more people to the welfare rolls."

Ms. MonCrief, in "How This Ex-Liberal Found Fortitude and Her Way Home" (October 8, 2009): "The Democrats seemed to be the answer: social programs, better schools, and politicians who cared. I do think that if I had never seen the other side of community organizing that I would still be blindly following along that same path. Being a conservative gives me hope, and peace."

Michael J. Gaynor

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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 gaynormike@aol.com.


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