Union Gangsters: Wade Rathke

Pages: 1 2

Don’t miss FrontPage’s other Union Gangsters profiles featuring Craig Becker, Richard Trumka, Stephen Lerner, Andy Stern, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., John Sweeney, Leo Gerard and Daniel De Leon.

In the connect-the-radical-dots evolution of radical leftists and their thuggish tactics, from the anti-Vietnam war protests of the ’60s to the OWS movement currently afflicting the American landscape, few men stand out more vividly than Wade Rathke.

Despite the fact the Rathke’s family members were prosperous ranchers from Orange Country, California, Rathke describes himself as a “professional organizer for over 35 years” who has “worked for and founded a series of organizations dedicated to winning social justice, workers rights, and a democracy where ‘the people shall rule.'”

His first use of those skills was his organization of draft resistance for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) after dropping out of Williams College in Massachusetts in the late ’60s. From there he moved onto a career with the NWRO (National Welfare Rights Organization) in Springfield, Massachusetts, under the direction of the late George Wiley, a black militant. Both men were dedicated to the Cloward-Piven Strategy, formulated by Columbia University sociology professors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. The strategy aims to implement the overthrow of capitalism by overwhelming the government with so many entitlement demands that the entire system crashes.

Thus it should come as no surprise that Rathke, who was sent by Wiley to Little Rock, Arkansas to begin organizing NWRO chapters in the South, would take it one step further after he fell out of favor with members of the NWRO who objected to a white man being in a position of power. In 1970, he formed the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which as the acronym indicates, became the first chapter of the now infamous Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Rathke began training members of ACORN using a Syracuse University program that was part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty efforts. A Community Action Training Center was created at the University, and it hired none other than the godfather of community activism himself, Saul Alinsky. Thus began the implementation of the “Alinsky Method,” which Alinsky described as one in which a community organizer “must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act.” (It should be noted that during his own days as a community organizer, president Barack Obama taught the Alinsky method. A photo of him doing it can be seen here.)

Rathke served as ACORN’s Chief Organizer until 2008 when he was fired. A month later it was revealed that his brother Dale had embezzled almost a million dollars from 1999-2000, and that board members kept the scandal quite for eight years. The money was repaid personally by Drummond Pike, who founded the Tides Foundation in 1976, a public charity that funnels money to radical left-wing groups. Why would Drummond make the payment? It might be due to the fact that in 1996, he created the Tides Center to help other organizations get a tax-exempt status under the umbrella of the foundation–and Wade Rathke was made chairman of the board. Rathke also sits on the board of the Tides Foundation as well.

Yet it was ACORN where Rathke had his most enduring success. At is high point, the organization boasted more than 400,000 dues-paying member families, and more than 1,200 chapters in 110 U.S. cities. And under Rathke’s leadership, thug-like behavior became a regular occurrence. Noisy and sometimes violent protests were organized against financial institutions, businessmen and public officials, much of which centered around living wage laws, voter registration and affordable housing.

Each initiative has been marked by either hypocrisy or disaster. With respect to living wage laws, a 2003 study by the Employment Policies Institute revealed that, despite advocating for job-killing, municipal budget-busting living wages that were often double the prevailing rates, ACORN was paying its own workers only $5.67 per hour. Furthermore, despite supporting “card check” for union organizing, which would have resulted in the elimination of secret ballots for workers, ACORN itself unlawfully blocked its own workers from organizing in 2003, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

With respect to voter registration, ACORN has been at the center of multi-state investigations into voter fraud. The low-water mark for such fraud came during the 2008 election cycle, when Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN employee, testified in a Pennsylvania state court that the organization’s quality-control efforts were “minimal or nonexistent.” Less than two weeks before the 2008 election it was also revealed that ACORN’s claim of registering 1.3 million new voters was wildly exaggerated–but that 30 percent of ACORN registrations were self-admittedly “faulty.” The group managed to avoid direct convictions for vote fraud by claiming they were not to blame for the actions of people they hired. Last August, however, Nevada District Court Judge Donald Mosley fined them the maximum amount allowed by law after ACORN’s Nevada field director, Christopher Edwards, who had previously pled guilty, testified against them in court.

Yet perhaps the most damaging aspect of ACORN’s activism was its involvement in affordable housing schemes which began in the 1980s, when ACORN activists in several cities seized abandoned properties and promoted “squatting” in them by homeless people. It was a ham-fisted attempt to force local governments to salvage and convert those properties into affordable housing. Yet their greatest success was their ability to get changes made to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) by successfully arguing that any discrepancy between lending rates to “people of color” and whites–regardless of credit-worthiness–was de facto evidence of racism.

Pages: 1 2

  • StephenD

    Would anyone be surprised to see a picture of Rathke, Ayers, Dorn, Jones and Obama conferring over a timeline for planed upheaval in order to undermine the "Relationships of Power" that they perceive as the enemy? I can see them discussing Alinsky’s teachings as if they were scripture.

    “A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage — the political paradise of communism.”

    They certainly adhere to his teachings as if they were scripture.

    Are they Marxist? It doesn’t matter. I ask folks what would a “Real” Marxist do differently from what these folks? And the answer is…nothing.

  • tullamore

    The Tides Center office is in San Francisco's Presidio. Drummond Pike, founder & president lives at 312 Montfort st, Mill Valley, Calif. Montfort st. is off Miller ave., turn at the 2AM Club. Mill Valley is an exit off 101 north off Golden Gate Bridge.
    The author of Invasion of the Body Snatchers got the pod people idea from watching the patrons of the Depot book store in the center of MV.

  • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks


    Why did OWS start two months ago and not three years ago just subsequent to the market crash allegedly caused by greedy rich Wall Street plutocrats? Why now and not then?

    Click my name for the answer.

  • Jim

    Alinsky believed in Jeffesonian democracy where citizens participate in and influence public policy on a regular basis not simply on election day. Demonizing folks who admire Alinsky is pure paranoia and hysteria.