If you steal a million bucks, and don’t tell anyone, is it a crime?

Well, maybe, say the Catholic bishops, especially if it might be some of our antipoverty money.

It seems that the Catholic Bishop’s “poverty” charity, the “Catholic Campaign for Human Development”, has been giving a million bucks or so each year to ACORN.

No big deal. The middle management of too many diocese are full of “forward looking” nuns and priests, and we lay people are just glad to have them there instead of teaching our children in eighth grade about condoms or the need for unilateral disarmament.

So one comes to the question: Why has the Bishops decided to stop funding ACORN? Is it because of Obama’s radical pro abortion philosophy, and, as NPR reports,  the fact that ACORN is deeply involved in the Obama campaign?

Would it be true.

The reason, according to the Catholic News Service, is:

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) suspended funding a nationwide community organizing group after it was disclosed June 2 that nearly $1 million had been embezzled.

A million bucks? To some of us, that’s a lot of money. But the theft was 8years ago, and it took ACORN that long to notify the public.

From the NYTimes:

Acorn chose to treat the embezzlement of nearly $1 million eight years ago as an internal matter and did not even notify its board…..

A whistle-blower forced Acorn to disclose the embezzlement, which involved the brother of the organization’s founder, Wade Rathke.

The brother, Dale Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from Acorn and affiliated charitable organizations in 1999 and 2000, Acorn officials said, but a small group of executives decided to keep the information from almost all of the group’s board members and not to alert law enforcement.

The idea was to keep it quiet, and not have the guy arrested, in exchange for restitution. Was it paid back?

..the Rathke family has paid Acorn $30,000 a year in restitution since 2001, or a total of $210,000.

Good for them. At this rate, the debt will be paid off in 24 more years, if no interest is charged. But the cover-up of the debt wasn’t for selfish reasons, like covering up for the head guy’s brother to keep him out of jail. No, it was done “for the good of the organization”.

Gee, silence and coverup of corruption, for the good of the organization. Where have we heard this one before?

But then comes a more interesting note:

A donor has offered to give Acorn the rest of what the Rathkes owe, and an agreement to that effect should be finalized in coming days, Ms. Lewis said.

The name of the donor is not mentioned in the Times. Any clues?

One shouldn’t get the idea that the entire board of ACORN was involved in the coverup. Indeed, 2 of the 51 member board sued to investigate the financial records to find out more about the crime. The bad news is that the full board forced the suit to be withdrawn.

 In the suit, board members Karen Inman and Marcel Reid claimed a small group of ACORN executives allowed the Rathke family to repay the embezzled money instead of reporting the allegations to law-enforcement authorities.

Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s interim chief organizer, has said Inman and Reid didn’t have the authority to sue on the board’s behalf. Lewis, who didn’t immediately return a call for comment Monday, also has said the suit was a distraction from responding to “Republican right-wing attacks” over ACORN’s voter registration.

But the report on CWN has this item:

CCHD has hired specialists in forensic accounting to investigate whether any of its grant funding has been misappropriated, McCloud added.

Does this mean that the Catholic Bishops will be able to get the books opened and reviewed, when even the board members can’t get the books reviewed?

Does this mean that if ACORN doesn’t open the books, that the Catholic bishops will sue to get them examined? Don’t hold your breath….

This can be read two ways:
One:  that the CCHD will check the books–either with ACORN’s cooperation or under threat of a lawsuit– with a fine tooth comb to see if money has been misappropriated (and while they’re at it, checking if other money has disappeared). If there is a pattern of corruption, authorities will be notified.

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.


Two: The CCHD, being sympathetic to the organization, will find the most cooperative accountant to do a superficial examination of the gifts, so that when the conservative Catholic groups complain, they can say “none of the money involved came from CCHD”.

Just move along, folks, nothing to be seen here. Trust me.

I have 20 bucks bet on number two. The accountants will find nothing wrong, and no criminal charges will be pressed against the thief. At the same time, I bet as soon as the election publicity on ACORN passes, the CCHD will quietly reinstate funding of ACORN.

Nope, not much has changed since Judas siphoned money out of Jesus’ charity funds to give his Zealot friends, and come to think of it, no one fired him either.


Thanks for the “headsup” from Professor Blosser’s blog.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician working in the rural Philippines. She writes on human rights at Makaipablog.


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