ACORN’s Texas chapter may have changed its name but it still appears to be involved in the same kinds of financial shenanigans that made the radical group synonymous with corruption and sleaze. President Obama used to work for ACORN and represented it in court as an attorney.
There are two ACORN spinoff groups allegedly involved in the scheme.
They are the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), classified by the IRS as a 501c4 “social welfare” organization, and its sister group, the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, a 501c3 charitable organization. The two legally separate nonprofit corporations were both created in December 2009, around the time Congress banned federal taxpayer funding of ACORN. ACORN was infamous for its embrace of the brutal in-your-face political tactics espoused by Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky.
Cause of Action says TOP used funds transferred to it by TOP Education Fund for political activity – a huge no-no according to federal tax law. This kind of accounting sleight-of-hand was standard operating procedure for the racketeers who ran the relentlessly corrupt ACORN network.
TOP and TOP Education Fund are engaging “in improper political activities under the radar of the IRS,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action. Epstein’s group is asking the IRS “to investigate these groups for potential abuses of their tax-exempt status, and to hold them accountable for any violations they find.”
In a letter to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, Cause of Action states that the TOP Education Fund handed over about $640,000 –almost 80 percent of its revenues— to TOP in 2010. Among other things TOP has been promoting the candidacy of Mary Ann Perez, a Democrat seeking office as the state representative for House District 144 (Houston).
The reason this could be a big deal is because donors to 501c3 charities like the TOP Education Fund are entitled to deduct donations from their taxes on the theory that their money is being used to benefit society. Groups like TOP that are recognized under section 501c4 of the tax code are allowed to be a bit more nakedly political. The thinking is that political activities don’t benefit society as a whole so donors do not get to deduct donations to such groups from their taxes.
Using tax-exempt money for non-tax-exempt purposes amounts to partisan money-laundering, something ACORN routinely practiced.
With its 370-plus affiliated organizations, ACORN participated in what congressional investigators called a “shell-game of corporate financing” that enabled ACORN “to commingle funds and potentially divert federal monies into partisan activities in violation of federal law.”
As I reported in my book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, one progressive movement insider described ACORN as possibly “the most brilliantly orchestrated criminal organization set up in many a year.”