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Wade Rathke Speaks Out | The Nation

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Christopher Hayes

Christopher Hayes

Nation editor-at-large and host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.

Wade Rathke Speaks Out

This comes from Nation DC intern Eric Naing:

Just a few weeks ago, a book talk by ACORN founder Wade Rathke wouldn't have drawn much press attention, but the organization's recent notoriety as a conservative boogeyman has thrust Rathke back in the spotlight.

At an event on Tuesday to promote his book Citizen Wealth: Winning the Campaign to Save Working Families, Rathke drew the attention of major media outlets ranging from The Washington Post to National Review. Notably, a reporter from biggovernment.com, the Web site that brought us the infamous pimp and prostitute videos, was there with a cameraman to get another bite at the proverbial, um, ACORN.

Rathke, who resigned as ACORN's chief organizer last year after news that his brother embezzled nearly $1 million from the organization surfaced, chose not to criticize the current leadership of ACORN but acknowledged that the group "didn't do right."

When pushed about his decision not to fully disclose his brother's actions, Rathke said his brother was reprimanded, he stepped down and the money had been paid back. He also defended his secrecy saying the group worried the news would be "weaponized" to hurt ACORN."

Any misstep within the organization might become a threat to its very survival," he said. "That's what's happening now."

Rahke believes much of the vitriol aimed at ACORN stems from opposition to the group's mission to give a voice to lower income people (the pimp in the original video admits his stunt was motivated by his anger over ACORN's attempt to help a foreclosed-on homeowner break into her own house) and he worries that mission is being jeopardized by "a rising neo-McCarthyism" coming from the right."

After the election, ACORN announced it wasn't going to register voters in the future. Now it's announced that it's not going to help people who are poor do taxes. Now it's announcing it's not going to help people buy houses," said Rathke. "Those are huge voids."

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