The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed two Freedom of Information lawsuits, one of which could re-open the strange case of alleged embezzlement in which ACORN's founder and former chief organizer kept an embezzlement scandal “in the family.”
Ten years ago, Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly $950,000 from the ACORN affiliate that he headed, Citizen's Consulting Incorporated. When the theft was discovered, his brother Wade and a handful of other ACORN officials kept the matter secret not only from authorities but even from members of ACORN's board. According to The New York Times, they treated the money that Dale stole as a loan to be paid back gradually.
He paid back about $215,000 until last year, when the embezzlement was finally made public by whistleblowers, creating a scandal. The rest of Rathke's debt was finally covered by a major donor, but many of those involved in the coverup continue to work for ACORN and its affiliates. (Wade Rathke justified the secrecy at the time by saying the scandal could have discredited the group's mission.)
Judicial Watch has filed suit demanding documentation from the Department of Labor that could indicate whether this cozy arrangement violated federal retirement benefits law. The lawsuit seeks records pertaining to ACORN and eight related organizations, including the Service Employees International Union and two of its local affiliates.
The other lawsuit by Judicial Watch seeks several documents, including two specific audit reports, related to AmeriCorps grants that went to ACORN Housing, an ACORN sister group.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton released a statement criticizing the Labor Department for failing to respond to the original Freedom of Information requests in a timely manner.
“These new FOIA lawsuits show that the Obama administration has taken a ‘stonewall’ approach when it comes releasing ACORN documents,” he said.