Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vicki McKenna interview on 1310 WIBA, Madison 3:00 pm today

I will be on the Vicki McKenna radio show (listen online here) this afternoon at 3:06pm to talk about a letter Representative Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) and I sent to Department of Administration Secretary Michael Morgan and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Antonio Riley about the possibility of state taxpayer dollars being sent to ACORN.

If it turns out the state is giving taxpayer money to ACORN Rep. Kramer and I will immediately introduce legislation to stop it.

In case you missed the whole ACORN scandal you can catch a glimpse of the story by watching this video:

You may also read the text of our letter below:

Throughout 2008, and again in recent weeks, there were several news reports surrounding the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, or ACORN, and disreputable practices of providing advice to low-income individuals on tax evasion and fraud.

ACORN, whose purported mission is to serve low-income communities, maintains offices in both Madison and Milwaukee. From their website:

Since 1970, ACORN has been building community organizations that are committed to social and economic justice, and won victories on thousands of issues of concern to our members, through direct action, negotiation, legislative advocacy and voter participation. ACORN helps those who have historically been locked out become powerful players in our democratic system.

Recent media revelations have disclosed that ACORN staff in Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, New York, NY, and San Bernardino, CA gave advice on tax evasion, manipulation of the tax code, and in one extreme case, murder, should give us all pause on the role of this organization in civil society.

Recognizing the gravity of the history of allegations and criminal conduct surrounding ACORN, the United States Senate voted 83-7 to defund ACORN activities in the federal Housing and Urban Development budget. Additionally, the United States Census Bureau has cancelled a contract with ACORN that would have employed its assistance in the decennial census next year.

ACORN receives tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grants and contracts to provide certain services to low-income individuals. Our fear is that they may be receiving Wisconsin tax dollars as well. Several other states have requested reviews of their official relationships with ACORN.

Today we write to request that you review all contracts, grants, and other official relationships that the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority may have with the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN). If indeed WHEDA does maintain official relationships with the organization, please provide our offices detailed descriptions of the relationship – including any past or projected financial outlays – and any steps you are prepared to take to ensure that Wisconsin taxpayers are not subsidizing an organization that has clearly fallen into disrepute.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.

Warmest regards,

Bill Kramer
97th Assembly District

Ted Kanavas
33rd Senate District

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