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ACORN Honcho Fired Over Obama Flap

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, left, talks with Beth Butler, as Texas Congressman Randy Neubebauer, R-Lubbock, right, looks around the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007.

Beth Butler, longtime director of Louisiana ACORN, fired in wake of Obama flap

By Gordon Russell
October 13, 2009, 6:49AM

Beth Butler, the longtime executive director of Lousiana ACORN, was terminated by the organization’s national leadership Monday amid a power struggle at the embattled advocacy group.

Butler’s sacking came two days after local ACORN leaders criticized President Barack Obama’s planned itinerary for a trip to New Orleans this week — comments that drew an immediate rebuke from ACORN’s national leaders.

On Sunday, ACORN Chief Executive Bertha Lewis said the remarks, which were not uttered by Butler, were "without authority and do not reflect the position of the national leadership." Lewis said she would "be personally going to New Orleans to deal with the individual involved."

Less than 24 hours later, Butler was fired. An angry Butler said Monday that the real reason for her firing was not the flap over Obama’s visit, but a simmering tussle over assets that ACORN’s Louisiana affiliate controls and that the national group covets.

In particular, Butler said headquarters has its eye on a land trust set up by the Louisiana branch. The trust owns five relatively modest houses, she said, and has a bank account of perhaps $60,000 intended for rehabilitation work — nothing to sneeze at, she said, "in the nonprofit world."

As it happens, ACORN officials agree with Butler that her termination was not carried out only as retribution for the Obama critique. Rather, according to an ACORN official who would speak only on background, the episode was "reflective of a lack of accountability to process" on Butler’s part.

Butler had repeatedly breached ACORN protocol, and this was the most recent instance, he said.

"Normally, the theory is that locals can speak for themselves, " said the official. "But this is in a time of severe challenge for us, and they were criticizing the president of the United States. If they had criticized Ray Nagin, we’d have nothing to say about it."

The "severe challenge" he described is an effort to recover from a series of scandals that have rocked the organization and threaten its survival…

And before that, it emerged that Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN’s founder, New Orleans-bred Wade Rathke, had embezzled nearly $1 million from the group. Instead of announcing he’d been caught, selected group leaders allowed him to quietly repay the money over a period of years.

The last scandal resulted in the ouster of Wade Rathke, who also happens to be the longtime companion of Butler. The two have lived together for decades and raised two children together, Butler said.

Butler, who has worked for ACORN for 37 years, said her real sin in the eyes of the national organization’s leaders was a failure to concede to their demands. In particular, she said, she had led resistance to a demand to turn over the land trust, called the ACORN Community Land Association of Louisiana, to the national group.

"We were told by national ACORN that we had to give it up to them, " she said. "We got e-mails threatening our jobs because we didn’t push the land trust people to hand over property and money to the New York people who took over ACORN."

Butler passed along an e-mail message from Lewis calling Butler’s behavior regarding the land trust "unacceptable."

The national entity is also making a play for roughly $90,000 in hurricane relief money controlled by the local group, Butler said.

"It’s hardball here, " she said. "Our local resources are being spirited to New York. ACORN Louisiana is the most lucrative chapter in the country, and we knew they were aiming to take us over. There’s a major meltdown in ACORN. They’re trying to scramble all of us who would fight them."

ACORN’s criticism of Obama’s original itinerary — essentially, that it was too short and did not include a stop in the Lower 9th Ward — was voiced by Vanessa Gueringer, an unpaid volunteer who heads the group’s Lower 9th Ward chapter.

"I’m thrilled that he’s coming, " Gueringer said of the president on Saturday. "But, " she added, "we want to see that change that you ran your platform on. We want to see the hope that symbolized your campaign in our neighborhood."

The day after Gueringer’s remarks, the Obama administration announced it was adding a stop in the Lower 9th, at Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School.

Gueringer said Monday that she has not received a phone call or an e-mail message from the White House expressing any vexation with her comments.

She said the episode simply provided a convenient smokescreen for ACORN leaders to fire Butler.

"It all goes back to Wade, " she said. "They’re angry at Wade, even though Wade’s money was paid back. There’s been a relentless campaign to destroy the New Orleans chapter of ACORN. Wade founded this organization. They would not have jobs today if Wade hadn’t done that. This is all a lie, it’s all a smear campaign."

The ACORN official, speaking on background, said Butler was not terminated because of her ties to Rathke. In fact, he said, the organization took pains "to give her a chance to earn her stripes and show she was not part of the legacy Wade left" in the wake of his ouster last year.

The official also disputed Butler’s claim that the national group is covetous of Louisiana ACORN’s assets. He said the assets were minimal and "not worth fighting over."

As for the land trust, he said, the national group had decided to "set it free" by cutting ties with it. "We have no intention nor desire to control its assets, " he said.

He said Butler was fired for "strict personnel reasons."

To review, Bertha Lewis, is trying to make it seem that Ms. Butler was fired for allowing someone under her at ACORN’s Louisiana offices to speak out against Mr. Obama.

And Ms. Butler, in turn, is claiming that ACORN’s national leadership just want to get their mitts on Louisiana ACORN’s assets.

And they want to stress that Ms. Butler is not being punished for her involvement with the Rathkes, who embezzled as much as $5 million dollars of ACORN’s (ill-gotten) swag.

Who says there is no honor among thieves?

ACORN Louisiana is the most lucrative chapter in the country…

And people wonder where all the Katrina money went.

But do notice that the leadership at ACORN is so flush with money that they consider five houses and $150,000 in ready cash “not worth fighting over.”

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “ACORN Honcho Fired Over Obama Flap”

  1. Tater Salad says:

    Acorn is rotten to the bone. They also stole the Minnesota election from Norm Coleman.


  2. Reality Bytes says:

    From ACORN a MIGHTY OAF did grow!

  3. proreason says:

    Acorn = Chicago politics = Obama = Alinsky = Lenin

  4. “Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.”

    I like this tactic.


  5. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Coincidentally, I have just reached the chapter about ACORN in Michelle Malkin’s book, “Culture Of Corruption”. It’s fascinating (if not disappointing) stuff.

    And what a filthy organization it is. Granted, no organization is squeaky clean all the time. But this agency has truly re-invented the wheel when it comes to bribes, theft, lying, well, you-name-it. Once it’s blown up, someone will name names and Barry’s will come out and he will be forced to answer for it. Unless he has a lackey to “throw under the bus” as has become such a common phrase these days.

    However, there’s already substantial evidence that Obama=ACORN=Obama. Who knew that Pythagoras was such a racist?

    Tough to get around that math.

  6. Danola says:

    FYI; La. is a red state. Bush was bashed for only coming an average of once every 3 months. It’s October 15th and Obama has his first trip to La. planned today. He is being called out by Vitter and Scalise (Republicans) for not spending more than 3 hours on the ground in La. Landrieu (Democrat) is praising him for all he has done which is absolutely nothing! (Note the number of times he and Biden have jetted off to visit Blue states, like 36x’s to Pennsylvania). Also note that William Jefferson, New Orleans Congressman in photo above is going to jail….yes he was convicted. He is the one who had 90k in his freezer. He also, after Katrina, during the search and rescue, commadeered a National Guard unit and made them escort him to his home in N.O. where he spent, I believe, about 2 hours inside, while the Guard soldiers who could have been saving lives waited for him to come out. It’s been reported that La. received about 75 billions dollars in govt aid for Katrina, but they never break it down. It’s actually at least 120-130 billion dollars! There was 60 billion spent to clean up the streets, haul off the hundreds of thousands of cars, refrigerators, and even bulldozed houses after the flooding went away. This was not paid by insurance companies. The govt paid this. Contractors were brought in from outside of La. to do the work and many layers of subcontractors were used resulting in govt contractors shoving money into their pockets while the ones actually doing the work received minimum wage. There were also the cases of …. well I watched 16 people take 2 days to cut down a tree. Included were FEMA, local reps, state reps, Army Corp reps, safety inspectors, contractor overseers, traffic control, heavy eq operators, and others. It was utterly amazing to see the waste. Now for the 75 billion….most of that was not paid by the govt! That money included the private insurance claims paid by insurance companies. And they should not include the fed flood insurance, but they include that as well. Insurance claim money does not come from the govt. this was paid by the ones making the claims in the form of premiums. Why so much money…..there were over 250,000 homes destroyed! (Compare to those forest fires in Calif. where 3000 homes get destroyed…just comparing, God bless them) For Acorn, they did nothing after Katrina for a long time. They started by organizing in other cities to get their people to return. Then they started demanding money from the government. Most of the work that was done in N.O. after Katrina was done by charity orgs like churches and fundraising groups. Not Acorn! The money spent in N.O after Katrina and still being dumped here was wasted! If you go through the destructed neighborhoods, you won’t see that money. You will see homes rebuilt with insurance money and donations. And you will see alot of empty land. Somebody walked away with their pockets stuffed and no one cares. The Army Corp of Engineers have even short changed the fixing of the problem. Seriously! There is corruption there as well. Billions of dollars are possibly being thrown away…..this all could happen again. The fact that N.O. is as blue as possible is offset by the fact that La. overall is Red. Sorry for commenting on different stuff here, but just had to get some thoughts out. I would love to follow the money, but just like Acorn, there are so many layers involved, that it would probably be impossible to figure out where all that money went.

  7. Liberals Demise says:

    This is turning into a spectators sport of grand, epic proportion. I must admit that I want a front row seat for when they start feeding on each other!!

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