From the Archives II: ACORN Corruption Runs Deep Tags: From the Archives II: ACORN Corruption Runs Deep

In politics the media seems to have a tier system for how they report on scandals. Republicans who fall from grace are vilified. They are the butts of countless inappropriate jokes and cartoons and expected never to be heard from again. Recent right scandals (examples, Governor Mark Sanford and Mark Foley) dominated the news, but, besides Fox News, the media barely covered Obama adviser Van Jones or delved deeply into the dealings of Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson.


Unfortunately for America, the media has been filtering news for years and this practice has allowed some of the main figures in the Teamstergate scandal to assume top spots in the Democrat party. Part 1 of this series reviewed the history of the scandal and its strong ties to ACORN and President Obama. In order to help readers fully appreciate the connections, I discuss below some of the major players in the Teamstergate saga who were named in indictments and a Congressional report on in a scheme that reached all the way into the White House.

The Congressional report, on Teamstergate, reached a number of damning conclusions that implicated organizations like Project Vote and Citizen Action. It also raised a number of questions about campaign finance and “soft money” donations. Something that ACORN seemed concerned with as detailed in a spring blog post here. Were these questions raised by ACORN political director Zach Polett a result of the following statement in the Congressional report:

The issue of soft money abuses is inevitably tied to the question of how access to political figures is obtained through large contributions of soft money. It is also tied to the question of how tax-exempt organizations have been used to hide the identities of soft money donors. A system that permits large contributions to be made for partisan purposes, without public disclosure, invites subversion of the intent of our election law limitations.

Among the subjects covered in the report was the role the Teamsters and the rest of big labor expected Democrats and the Clinton administration to play in these schemes:

The Subcommittee concluded the following:

  • From 1992 through the 1996 election cycle, the Teamsters waged a political campaign with a singular focus: to cultivate a strong, symbiotic relationship with the Clinton Administration and, more generally, the Democratic Party.
  • The IBT coordinated the union’s political efforts with other labor unions, the White House, and supposedly “independent” non-profit organizations.
  • IBT leadership appears to have linked political contributions to assistance from the politicians it supported
  • In addition to millions of dollars in direct political contributions made from DRIVE, IBT leaders appear to have tapped general treasury funds for $18 million more, which they spent in support of Democratic political candidates through tax-exempt organizations that conducted get-out-the-vote and issue advocacy activities; these contributions had the intended effect of assisting Democratic candidates. Such contributions may have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974.
  • The IBT’s political action efforts contributed to the union’s near-bankruptcy.

The Graduating Glass of Teamstergate 1996: Where Are They Now?

Heather Booth


Role In Teamstergate: As I noted in part 1, Booth was a founder, co-director and president of Citizen Action, one of the nonprofits mentioned in the indictment of Ron Carey as being part of the Teamster money sway scheme.

The Obama Connection: At the same time Booth was also training young radicals through her Midwest Academy. An article entitled “Obama’s Third Way” explains the Obama,/Booth connection:

“William McNary, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois, a coalition of labor, community and citizen groups, says, ‘Barack was not just willing to meet with community-based groups, not only to be a good vote for us, but he also strategized with us to help move our position forward.’”

“‘Now, as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama is drawing on his community-organizing experience, comparing his candidacy to a grass-roots project and frequently referring to lessons he learned as an organizer.

“‘He’s given community organizing a good name,’ remarks Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, a Chicago-based organizer training center.”

“…even a natural needs some training and practice. Gerald Kellman, who first recruited Obama, taught him the basics, and he also learned from organizing trainers associated with the Gamaliel Foundation and the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Both organize community groups, primarily religious congregations, and trace their lineage to Saul Alinsky.”

“Gregory Galluzzo, a Gamaliel founder, was one of Obama’s teachers.”

ACORN Ties? Booth is clearly considered a friend of ACORN. She has been affiliated with such ACORN partners as MoveOn, Center for Community Change, HCAN and SEIU. Her husband Paul Booth’s ties to the Students for a Democratic Society (a group tied to ACORN founder Wade Rathke) are very telling. An article on has the details:

“The current president of the SEIU is Andrew Stern, a former New Leftist who came out of the University of Pennsylvania. One of the eulogies given at a Democratic Socialists of America memorial after the death of DSA co-founder Michael Harrington gave tribute to ‘the people who worked with or fought with Mike who now staff high councils of the AFL, like Andy Stern of SEIU….’ Stern is one of many radical union organizers who came out of the Midwest Academy which was formed by SDS radicals Heather and Paul Booth to train community organizers and infiltrate the labor movement. Paul Booth who was a secretary-treasure of SDS is now the assistant to Gerald McEntee, a member of Al Gore’s kitchen cabinet in the 2000 campaign and the president of the other powerful government union, AFCSME. Heather is the guiding force of the radical organization ACORN

Where Are They Now? According to her bio, Booth is:

  • President of the Midwest Academy, training social change leaders and organizers.
  • has been involved in and managed several political campaigns and was the Training Director of the Democratic National Committee.
  • In 2000, she was the Director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, which helped to increase African American election turnout by nearly 2 million voters.
  • She was the first DC representative for
  • In 2008 she was the director of the Health Care Campaign for the AFL-CIO, organizing to win affordable high quality reform for all.
  • She is on the board of USAction, NAACP National Voter Fund, and the Center for Community Change.
Doug Sosnik

Role in Teamstergate: According to the Congressional report “the genesis of the Teamsters’ strategy for that cycle appears to date back to 1992, when the union revamped its political action efforts with the help of key Democratic consultants and President Clinton’s top political aide, Doug Sosnik. Sosnik working directly with big labor and the report indicates a high level of coordination on Sosnik’s part:

“The emergence and execution of a pro-Democratic political agenda. From 1992 through the 1996 election cycle, the Teamsters waged a political campaign with a singular focus: to cultivate a strong, symbiotic relationship with the Clinton Administration and, more generally, the Democratic Party. The political agenda of the Teamsters’ leadership was shaped by, among others, Hal Malchow, a Democratic Party consultant, and Douglas Sosnik, President Clinton’s former Political Director (now Counselor to the President).

The Obama Connection: “A handful of top Clinton administration officials and a smattering of lower-ranking ones have taken up with Mrs. Clinton’s rivals for the Democratic nomination. Most cite pre-existing personal or professional loyalties…The highest-ranking defectors include a political aide who shadowed Mr. Clinton for years and is advising Senator Dodd of Connecticut, Douglas Sosnik…”

ACORN Ties? Sosnik’s ACORN ties may be indirect and relate to organizations such as the Center for American Progress or his previous relationship with the Unions.

Where Are They Now? According to SourceWatch, Sosnik has continued to play a key role in the Democrat party:

“Democrats are busy, too. Three former high-ranking aides of Clinton — Harold Ickes, Doug Sosnik and John D. Podesta — are working to set up a Democratic soft-money operation with the goal of running pro-Democratic issue ads. The three are part of the informal brain trust of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.”

Harold Ickes


Role in Teamstergate: The New York Times covered Ickes involvement in Teamstergate:

“In their inquiry into the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Federal investigators are focusing on fund-raising by the Democratic Party in last year’s elections and on reported arrangements to funnel large sums of money improperly between the two organizations. Vote Now ‘96, which was based in Florida for last year’s elections, is also being examined by investigators for the Senate committee that is now holding hearings on campaign finance.

“The group has an established track record in registering voters and getting them to the polls. It must be nonpartisan to retain its tax-exempt status, but the organization’s focus on minority voters makes it a natural ally for the Democratic Party. In the 1996 elections, it attracted the attention of top Democratic campaign strategists, including Harold M. Ickes, who was a White House deputy chief of staff, and Donald L. Fowler, who was the Democratic national chairman…”

The Obama Connection: During the 2008 presidential race, the Obama campaign

“…paid $50,000, even though Mr. Ickes works for Mrs. Clinton and has been raising concerns about Mr. Obama’s electability as he courts superdelegates on her behalf.

‘We just hope that Harold’s data is better than his delegate math,’ Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said of the payments to Catalist.”

ACORN Ties? Ickes ties to big labor include ACORN “sister organization” SEIU and after Teamstergate Ickes helped with Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign:

Following Mrs. Clinton’s successful election to the United States Senate, Ickes played a central role in creating the Democrat Shadow Party. After passage of the McCain-Feingold Act of March 27, 2002, Ickes helped put Shadow Party architect George Soros together with activists Andrew Stern, Ellen R. Malcolm, Steven Rosenthal, Gina Glantz, Cecile Richards and other left-wing Democrats who were seeking ways to circumvent McCain-Feingold’s soft-money ban. Working closely with Soros, Ickes personally helped launch six of the seven organizations that formed the Shadow Party’s core during the 2004 election, including America Coming Together, America Votes, the Center for American Progress, Joint Victory Campaign 2004, the Media Fund, and the Thunder Road Group.

ACORN is part of this group co-founded by Ickes. ACORN insiders revel that Icke’s firm Catalist also has a business relationship with Project Vote.

Where Are They Now? Ickes’ fall from graces wasn’t too steep:

He is president of Catalist, a for-profit databank that sold its voter files to the Obama and the Clinton presidential campaigns for their get-out-the-vote efforts. With his equity stake in the firm, Mr. Ickes stood to benefit financially no matter which candidate became the Democratic nominee.

In creating Catalist, Mr. Ickes, who was deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House, formed a rare entity on the political scene, a for-profit limited-liability corporation that allows wealthy Democratic donors to help progressive organizations and candidates by investing in the company. And if Catalist, which has data on 230 million Americans, is successful as a business, these donors-turned-investors stand to reap financial returns from using their money to help elect Democrats.

In the case of Ickes we have to add a new category – Current Scandal.

“But some campaign finance watchdogs say they wonder whether Catalist was established not so much to make money but to find a creative way to allow big-money liberal donors to influence the election without disclosing the degree of their involvement or being subjected to other rules that would govern spending by an explicitly political organization.

“Catalist has raised over $11 million in venture capital, including more than $1 million from the billionaire financier George Soros, according to his aides. It also counts on such large unions as the Service Employees International Union and the A.F.L.-C.I.O., to buy its products and create revenues. And it plans to be the go-to source for voter data for a broad swath of groups often aligned with Democrats – like the Sierra Club, Emily’s List and Clean Water Action “

Tony Podesta


Role in Teamstergate: The Congressional report indicates that Tony Podesta was involved in one of the several schemes that connected back to the Clinton Administration.

“Tony Podesta, whom the IBT hired to lobby on issues concerning Diamond Walnut, also attempted to lobby the Department of Agriculture, the USTR, and members of Congress concerning the strike, the MPP, and the USTR’s other activities that benefited Diamond Walnut. Billing records subpoenaed by the Subcommittee indicate that Mr. Podesta met with staff members from the USTR’s office as early as February 1995 and continued contact with the USTR’s office at least through June 1995. Podesta contacted Peter Scher, Ambassador Kantor’s Chief of Staff, on several occasions. Among other things, Mr. Podesta wrote a June 19, 1995 memorandum to Mr. Scher identifying international trade-related issues under the USTR’s purview which were of importance to Sun-Diamond.801. In this memo Mr. Podesta stated that ‘any additional pressure you can put on Sun-Diamond would be very helpful.’”

The Obama Connection: Tony is the brother of John Podesta, who has served on the Obama transition team as well as has close ties to Obama.

ACORN Ties? Tony’s brother John was recently tapped to sit on the newly formed ACORN advisory council. John Podesta has extremely close ties to ACORN and has recently taken to defending them and attacking journalists for covering the story:

“CAP President John Podesta, who also sits on ACORN’s Advisory Council, said, ‘Accountability starts with knowing all the facts. ACORN, which is doing important work in advocating for lower-income Americans all across this country, is taking an important step today by acknowledging its need for reform and demonstrating its desire to take corrective action.’”

Where Are They Now? “As the Obama Administration and the new Congress took power, Tony Podesta was recognized as one of the shrewdest strategists and most important figures in a transformed governmental, economic, and media environment. Newsweek included Tony as one of eight of ‘The DC Powers,’ branding him ‘The Lobbyist.’ The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times each listed Tony among the most important people in the nation’s capital. Additionally, Business Week featured The Podesta Group as one of seven of the ‘Lobbyists Likely to Thrive in the New Washington.’

Ira Arlook


Role in Teamstergate: Ira Arlook, director of Citizen Action and another ex-SDSer, has run up more than $200,000 in legal bills defending his organization against possible criminal charges over its Teamster money-laundering role. The scandal so damaged the fund-raising ability of Citizen Action’s national organization that the group just closed its Washington, D.C., office and laid off 20 staffers.

The Obama Connection: Arlook’s connections to Obama are directly tied to Heather Booth and Citizen Action. Arlook is also linked with Booth’s Midwest Academy and Columbia’s Frances Fox Piven.

ACORN Ties? Arlook is one of the founders of the Campaign for America’s future and CAF helped create the Apollo Alliance. Arlook’s ties to Citizen Action and Heather Booth also link back to closes ties to ACORN and its affiliates.

Where Are They Now? At its March 2008 “Take Back America” conference in Washington, DC, CAF joined six fellow leftist organizations in announcing plans for “the most expensive [$350
million] mobilization in history this election season” — an initiative that focused on voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote drives. The other members of CAF’s coalition included, Rock the Vote, ACORN, the National Council of La Raza, the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, and the AFL-CIO.

Arlook is also the managing director of Fenton Communications.

David Wilhelm


Role in Teamstergate: David Wihelm is another Clinton insider implicated in the scandal but with the help of the media, he appears to be back up to his old tricks. The federal investigation outline in the Congressional report ties Wilhelm back to big labor:

“The Clinton Administration appreciated these efforts. Shortly after the 1992 election, David Wilhelm, the President’s campaign manager, appeared before the GEB and “thanked the IBT for playing a major role in the Clinton campaign. Wilhelm noted that the IBT’s contribution to the campaign was different than many other organizations, because of its attention to grassroots work, including the Teamsters voter registration drive.”

When Wilhelm became the youngest chair of the DNC in 1993 he was in a perfect position to facilitate the scam on several levels.

The Obama Connection: Wilhelm was a 2008 superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention. He supported Barack Obama’s candidacy and informally advised the Obama campaign.

Barack Obama’s website has a glowing review of Wilhelm’s decision to back the campaign:

‘Timing is(almost) everything. If David Wilhelm had declared for Obama a month ago, he would have hardly have been noticed, though he would certainly still have been helpful, as he will be now.

“But what a time for him to announce.

“He is, after all. former Clinton Campaign Manager, former head of the Democratic National Committee and SuperDelegate, at a time when their role has become such a part of this electoral drama.”

ACORN Ties? Wilhelm’s ties seem to be mostly with labor unions but his prior involvement in Teamstergate opens the door to a possible connection through one of the affiliates like Project Vote.

Where Are They Now? Wilhelm still commands respect in Washington and he is the:

Founder and President of Woodland Venture Management, a company that raises and invests private equity in parts of the country that are underserved by the nation’s financial industry. Woodland has become one of the nation’s leading sources of capital in the Midwest and central Appalachia.

Wilhelm is best known for his political work, which has included managing campaigns for President Bill Clinton, Senator Paul Simon, Senator Joe Biden, Governor Rod Blagojevich, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Robert Creamer


Role in Teamstergate: Creamer is not mentioned in the Congressional report, but was affiliated with Citizen Action and Heather Booth around the same time of the scandal. Creamer conveniently distanced himself from the group. Perhaps his wife’s political aspirations played a role in that decision. Creamer is married to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

The Obama Connection: Creamer taught at “Camp Obama,” a week-long summer camp last month held at the presidential candidate’s office in Chicago for campaign interns and volunteers-just a few blocks away from the federal court where on August 31, 2005 he pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and failure to pay federal taxes…on charges brought by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

ACORN Ties? Intrepid blogger Trevor Loudon and the other bloggers have connected Creamer and his wife to labor and ACORN:

In November 2008 RBO connected some dots between USAction, of which Citizen Action Illinois is associated, and Health Care for America, which was launched in July 2008 by a coalition of the usual suspects:

ACORN, AFSCME, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Center for Community Change,, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SEIU, United Food and Commercial Workers, and USAction.

Since, Creamer, a contributor at The Huffington Post has taken to defending ACORN with such titles asTime to Get Real About the ACORN “Controversy”–and Republican Double Standards

Where Are They Now? Creamer’s bio on the aforementioned Campaign for America’s future details how the Democrats take care of their own:

“Robert Creamer has been a political organizer and strategist for almost four decades. He and his firm, the Strategic Consulting Group, work with many of the country’s most significant issue campaigns. He was one of the major architects and organizers of the successful campaign to defeat the privatization of Social Security. He is a consultant to the campaigns to end the war in Iraq, pass universal health care, change America’s budget priorities and enact comprehensive immigration reform. His clients have included labor unions, public interest groups, and advocacy organizations like, Americans United for Change and USAction. He has also worked on hundreds of electoral campaigns at the local, state and national levels.”

Terry McAuliffe


Role in Teamstergate: Testimony in the Teamstergate scandal given by high level Democrat officials implicated McAuliffe:

“A former Democratic official has testified that Terence McAuliffe, President Clinton’s friend and chief fund-raiser, played a major role in promoting an illegal scheme in which Democratic donors were to contribute to the Teamster president’s re-election campaign, and in exchange the Teamsters were to donate large sums to the Democrats.

The official, Richard Sullivan, the Democratic National Committee’s former finance director, testified in Manhattan at the trial of William Hamilton, the Teamsters former political director, that Mr. McAuliffe urged him and other fund-raisers to find a rich Democrat to donate at least $50,000 to the 1996 re-election campaign of Ron Carey, the former Teamsters president.”

The Obama Connection: Besides professing his love for Obama on air, McAuliffe played a critical role in turning the state of Virginia blue for Obama:

“McAuliffe has agreed to campaign extensively for Obama in his longtime home state of Virginia — and he’s in discussions with Obama advisers about the possibility of doing as many as two dozen or more events, according to advisers to both men.

“Obama advisers say that McAuliffe will be pressed into service to advocate in particular for Obama’s health care plan. ‘Terry clearly has facility with the issue,’ says Kevin Griffis, Obama’s Virginia press rep, adding that the Obama camp is hoping for multiple events from McAuliffe. ‘People know him from his work with the Clinto’s, and he’s a passionate supporter. We feel like he’s someone who can talk to people from all walks of life.’

ACORN Ties? McAuliffe is tied to big labor and key players in the top levels of the DNC and the White House

Where Are They Now? After losing bid for governor in the primary, McAuliffe is an entrepreneur with a several ventures in Virginia. He’s also a bestselling author whose first book is entitled: What a Party!: My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals.

While reporters of the liberal media establishment are reluctant to report on the scandal of the “colleagues” from massive liberal and labor organizations, they are in effect ensuring that scandals will occur again.

ACORN and its partners were able to weather the investigation relatively unscathed, The Congressional report detailed the difficulties in collecting evidence or witnesses from the players involved. The Clinton Justice Department skirted around an investigation while the “nonprofits” regrouped and applied the lessons learned to new endeavors. The public must demand a real investigation that includes more that a report with recommendations. ACORN has had seventeen years to perfect strategy. The American public only has a small window left to push for RICO and Justice Department investigation, because at the top of this graduating class of political operators are a pair from Teamstergate who have had a working relationship dating back to 1992. In this case, a picture really is worth a thousand words.



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