By Columnist Jim Kouri
In recently obtained documents from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an “Inside the Beltway” public-interest group reported on Thursday that it discovered that on Feb. 12, 2013, Sarah Gerecke, HUD’s assistant secretary for Office of Housing Counseling, may have violated federal law.
According to officials at Judicial Watch, Gerecke requested that more than $200,000 be removed from the coffers of the disbanded Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA), an ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) affiliate, and added to the coffers of HUD intermediary Mission for Peace “to specifically pay for the activities of former AHCOA affiliates.”
“Just as criminals change their aliases, ACORN is changing its name,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a press statement.
“But make no mistake about it, just because they change their name, doesn’t mean anything has really changed at all,” the lawmaker said. The congressman said ACORN’s announcement – that it was closing down all activities and branches – was just another scheme to get its hands on taxpayer funds.
During an investigation of ACORN by the FBI and GOP lawmakers, President Barack Obama’s spokespersons claimed he had a limited relationship with ACORN.
However, the record shows that “(Obama) says he is drawn to politics, despite its superficialities, as a means to advance his real passion and calling: community organization. … In 1992 Obama took time off to direct Project Vote, an ACORN program said to be the most successful grass-roots voter-registration campaign in recent (Chicago) history,” according to an Accuracy in Media report by Jim Kouri on Nov. 12, 2010.
According to the documents, obtained through Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on May 16, 2013, the Gerecke memo requesting the transfer appears to have been in violation of the first continuing resolution of FY 13.
That resolution continued funding levels under the FY 2012 appropriations bills, which provided that no HUD funds “made available under this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries.”
The Gerecke memo stated:
In March 2012, HUD’s Program Support Division (PSD) received notice that Affordable Housing Centers of American (AHCOA) had closed and would no longer participate in the HUD Housing Counseling Program. Upon closing, AHCOA had a balance of $201,222.07 in its account.
The Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) is requesting to transfer, under the ‘replacement grant” rule, the AHCOA balance of $201,222.07 to MOP to specifically pay for the activities of the former AHCOA affiliates. PSD met with the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Budget and Field Resources to confirm transfer was allowable.
“According to records obtained by Judicial Watch dated Feb. 19, 2013, the funds were to be transferred to Mission of Peace President and CEO Reverend Elmira Smith-Vincent in Flint, Michigan. A Line of Credit Control System Treasury Detail memo obtained by Judicial Watch confirmed that the transfer had been made on February 25, 2013.”
“After a series of scandals triggered the collapse of ACORN in late 2009, what was previously called ACORN Housing was renamed Affordable Housing Centers of America in early 2010. Former ACORN Housing president Alton Bennett retained the same position with AHCOA, as did executive director Mike Shea and vice president Dorothy Amadi. Public affairs director Bruce Dorpalen was formerly ACORN Housing’s loan director,” stated Judicial Watch on Thursday.
“Barack Obama is truly the president from ACORN – as this illegal funding by his administration of these ACORN fronts shows,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.