John Edwards Should Separate Self From ACORN's Baggage on Cleveland Minimum Wage Tour, Says Employment Policies Institute

Voter Fraud, Union Busting, Embezzlement and Federal Grant Violations

Are Just The Tip of The Iceberg of ACORN's Long, Sordid History



Jun 30, 2005, 01:00 ET from Employment Policies Institute

    CLEVELAND, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The activist group to which former
 vice-presidential candidate John Edwards has attached his minimum wage crusade
 once sued the state of California to exempt itself from paying its own
 employees the minimum wage.  This stunning hypocrisy is just the beginning of
 a lengthy history of duplicity, fraud and illegalities committed by
 Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) -- all of which
 were detailed in a letter to Edwards today by the Employment Policies
 Institute (EPI).
     "Earlier this year, you stated that the best anti-poverty program is 'a
 job.' We wholeheartedly agree. It is concerning that in your enthusiasm to
 address this critical issue, you have allowed yourself to become aligned with
 the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). While ACORN
 claims to work for the benefit of low-income employees, its actions betray a
 troubling disregard for this very group," wrote EPI Research Director Craig
 Garthwaite in the letter to John Edwards.
     The Employment Policies Institute highlighted for Edwards the findings in
 its report, "The Real ACORN: Anti-Employee, Anti-Union, Big Business"
 including:
 
     ACORN and Minimum Wage Hypocrisy -- Most egregiously, ACORN promotes
 ballot initiatives and local ordinances to force businesses to pay higher
 minimum wages, as they are currently doing with Edwards in a number of cities.
 In 1995, however, ACORN actually sued the state of California to have its
 employees exempted from the state minimum wage. ACORN argued that being forced
 to pay higher wages would mean that they would hire fewer employees-the very
 dilemma faced by businesses.  Incredibly, ACORN stated that paying its
 employees a lower wage would allow them to be more sympathetic to the low- and
 moderate-income families they were attempting to help.  ACORN argued that
 abiding by the state minimum wage would limit their ability to promote their
 agenda and would therefore be a violation of their First Amendment rights.
 The trial court judge dismissed ACORN's suits, stating, "leaving aside the
 latter argument's absurdity  ...  we find ACORN to be laboring under a
 fundamental misconception of constitutional law."
 
     ACORN Involved in Florida Voter Registration Fraud -- In 2004, ACORN was
 at the center of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement statewide
 investigation into widespread fraudulent voter registrations tied to its
 ballot initiative campaign to raise the minimum wage.  An ACORN whistleblower
 reports that ACORN illegally threw out Republican registrations while paying
 gatherers for Democratic ones. He also charged that ACORN targeted ex-cons and
 that he personally set up registration tables outside the Miami police
 department and Dade County jail and went on to state, "The voter registration
 project has been operating illegally since it started."
 
     ACORN bilks AmeriCorps -- In 1996, the Inspector General of the AmeriCorps
 program, Luise Jordan, stripped a $1 million grant from the ACORN Housing
 Corporation (AHC).  When applying, AHC had denied any connections to ACORN,
 since the grant was not intended for political advocacy organizations.
 Evidence later uncovered by the Inspector General found that not only was AHC
 created by ACORN, engaged in numerous transactions with one another, and
 sharing staff and office space -- but it utilized the AmeriCorps grant to
 increase ACORN membership, a violation of federal guidelines.  AHC also
 utilized its government-funded loan counseling program to steer low-income
 families toward ACORN memberships. Jordan found that AHC had distributed
 leaflets stating that low income, first-time homebuyers were required to join
 ACORN, at an annual cost of $60, in order to receive the government-subsidized
 counseling.
 
     ACORN Union-Busts Own Workers -- On March 27, 2003 the National Labor
 Relations Board (NLRB) found that ACORN had violated the National Labor
 Relations Act and was required to rehire and pay restitution to employees
 terminated for attempting to form a union.  The NLRB ruling is just the latest
 in a trend of ACORN's union-busting tactics.  ACORN employees have
 historically demanded higher wages, safer working conditions and more timely
 contracted wages.  These efforts have been repressed behind closed doors by
 the hypocritical ACORN leadership, which publicly advocates higher pay and
 better working conditions for private sector workers.
 
     "ACORN's history of voter registration fraud, hypocrisy, abuse of federal
 grant programs, and disregard for sound economics should raise a red flag for
 John Edwards or anyone lending their name to this group," Garthwaite said.
 
     The full report is available online at http://www.EPIonline.org
 
     The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization
 dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding entry-level employment.
 
 

SOURCE Employment Policies Institute
    CLEVELAND, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The activist group to which former
 vice-presidential candidate John Edwards has attached his minimum wage crusade
 once sued the state of California to exempt itself from paying its own
 employees the minimum wage.  This stunning hypocrisy is just the beginning of
 a lengthy history of duplicity, fraud and illegalities committed by
 Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) -- all of which
 were detailed in a letter to Edwards today by the Employment Policies
 Institute (EPI).
     "Earlier this year, you stated that the best anti-poverty program is 'a
 job.' We wholeheartedly agree. It is concerning that in your enthusiasm to
 address this critical issue, you have allowed yourself to become aligned with
 the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). While ACORN
 claims to work for the benefit of low-income employees, its actions betray a
 troubling disregard for this very group," wrote EPI Research Director Craig
 Garthwaite in the letter to John Edwards.
     The Employment Policies Institute highlighted for Edwards the findings in
 its report, "The Real ACORN: Anti-Employee, Anti-Union, Big Business"
 including:
 
     ACORN and Minimum Wage Hypocrisy -- Most egregiously, ACORN promotes
 ballot initiatives and local ordinances to force businesses to pay higher
 minimum wages, as they are currently doing with Edwards in a number of cities.
 In 1995, however, ACORN actually sued the state of California to have its
 employees exempted from the state minimum wage. ACORN argued that being forced
 to pay higher wages would mean that they would hire fewer employees-the very
 dilemma faced by businesses.  Incredibly, ACORN stated that paying its
 employees a lower wage would allow them to be more sympathetic to the low- and
 moderate-income families they were attempting to help.  ACORN argued that
 abiding by the state minimum wage would limit their ability to promote their
 agenda and would therefore be a violation of their First Amendment rights.
 The trial court judge dismissed ACORN's suits, stating, "leaving aside the
 latter argument's absurdity  ...  we find ACORN to be laboring under a
 fundamental misconception of constitutional law."
 
     ACORN Involved in Florida Voter Registration Fraud -- In 2004, ACORN was
 at the center of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement statewide
 investigation into widespread fraudulent voter registrations tied to its
 ballot initiative campaign to raise the minimum wage.  An ACORN whistleblower
 reports that ACORN illegally threw out Republican registrations while paying
 gatherers for Democratic ones. He also charged that ACORN targeted ex-cons and
 that he personally set up registration tables outside the Miami police
 department and Dade County jail and went on to state, "The voter registration
 project has been operating illegally since it started."
 
     ACORN bilks AmeriCorps -- In 1996, the Inspector General of the AmeriCorps
 program, Luise Jordan, stripped a $1 million grant from the ACORN Housing
 Corporation (AHC).  When applying, AHC had denied any connections to ACORN,
 since the grant was not intended for political advocacy organizations.
 Evidence later uncovered by the Inspector General found that not only was AHC
 created by ACORN, engaged in numerous transactions with one another, and
 sharing staff and office space -- but it utilized the AmeriCorps grant to
 increase ACORN membership, a violation of federal guidelines.  AHC also
 utilized its government-funded loan counseling program to steer low-income
 families toward ACORN memberships. Jordan found that AHC had distributed
 leaflets stating that low income, first-time homebuyers were required to join
 ACORN, at an annual cost of $60, in order to receive the government-subsidized
 counseling.
 
     ACORN Union-Busts Own Workers -- On March 27, 2003 the National Labor
 Relations Board (NLRB) found that ACORN had violated the National Labor
 Relations Act and was required to rehire and pay restitution to employees
 terminated for attempting to form a union.  The NLRB ruling is just the latest
 in a trend of ACORN's union-busting tactics.  ACORN employees have
 historically demanded higher wages, safer working conditions and more timely
 contracted wages.  These efforts have been repressed behind closed doors by
 the hypocritical ACORN leadership, which publicly advocates higher pay and
 better working conditions for private sector workers.
 
     "ACORN's history of voter registration fraud, hypocrisy, abuse of federal
 grant programs, and disregard for sound economics should raise a red flag for
 John Edwards or anyone lending their name to this group," Garthwaite said.
 
     The full report is available online at http://www.EPIonline.org
 
     The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization
 dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding entry-level employment.
 
 SOURCE  Employment Policies Institute