Founder of embattled community organization visits Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Founder of embattled community organization visits Memphis

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - With the organization he founded at the center of a national controversy, ACORN founder Wade Rathke visited Action News 5 Monday to offer this thoughts on the scrutiny his cause currently faces.

In 2008, Rathke left ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.  The group, which aims to help the working poor with housing and taxes, was rocked by scandal after two independent filmmakers posed as a pimp and a prostitute in secretly videotaped meetings with ACORN agents, getting advice on how to set up their business.

"It's a very painful thing because the organization certainly built a service arm around housing and taxes," Rathke said. "And to see how people were sort of tricked almost trying to be too helpful in crazy situations."

But Rathke added that ACORN workers may have violated the so-called "do right rule."

"It wasn't all the offices that made the mistake, but one would have been too many and too painful," he said.

The hidden-camera scandal comes on the heels of accusations ACORN submitted fraudulent voter registration forms.  Rathke said the scrutiny does not dismiss the cause.
"Money talks, and to the degree you don't have money, you need to put together a whole lot of other engineering, if you will, to be able to get your voice up to the level where people of influence and corporations and governments can really hear your concerns," he said.

Rathke accepted an invitation by the University of Memphis to carry his message, and talk about his new book.

"It was my hope when I left ACORN that it would go on for hundreds of years as long as it had value for that, and I still hope that," he said.

Rathke said bad publicity may create a need for ACORN to change its name, but he expects some form of the group to stick around.

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