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Hearing voices: People moving on, moving up, taking over

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Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN, is now the head of a mental health advocacy group in Juneau. YouTube Screen Shot.

Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN, is now the head of a mental health advocacy group in Juneau. YouTube Screen Shot.

DISGRACED ACORN CHIEF IS ORGANIZING IN JUNEAU

A notorious national organization’s founder is now leading a local mental health advocacy group in Alaska’s capital.

Wade Rathke was the founder of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

ACORN sucked down millions of dollars of taxpayer money and was on tape committing voter registration improprieties. The scandal-laden organization was investigated by the FBI for a “coordinated national scam” of voter registration fraud.

“ACORN is not an organization that should be subsidized by taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” Speaker John Boehner wrote in 2008.  “ACORN, which for years has been closely connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, appears to have played a key role in the irresponsible schemes that led to the recent financial meltdown that has already cost Americans trillions of dollars in the form of government bailouts and lost retirement savings.  Congress has not yet held investigatory hearings to examine the details of ACORN’s involvement in these schemes.  Until credible oversight hearings are conducted and completed in a manner that clears ACORN of wrongdoing, the organization should not receive taxpayer money.”

It gets worse. In 2008, The New York Times reported that Rathke’s brother had embezzled $948,607 from the group and its affiliated charitable organizations. An employee of ACORN’s accounting firm told Rathke that an investigation had led to discovery of the embezzlement.

“Clearly, this was an uncomfortable, conflicting and humiliating situation as far as my family and I were concerned,” Wade told the New York Times, “and so the real decisions on how to handle it had to be made by others.”

ACORN decided to cover it up, and not inform staff, law enforcement or even members of the board.

Wade Rathke told the Times  that  “the decision to keep the matter secret was not made to protect his brother but because word of the embezzlement would have put a ‘weapon’ into the hands of enemies of ACORN, a liberal group that is a frequent target of conservatives who object to ACORN’s often strident advocacy on behalf of low- and moderate-income families and workers.”

He was forced to resign from ACORN but still has leadership ties to the ACORN International network. In a message to his supporters, he noted that ACORN International launched a group in South Korea and in Prague. The Prague group was called the “ACORN Comrades Club.”

Rathke now runs the newly formed Juneau Mental Health Consumer Action Network, or MCAN. What can possibly go wrong?

MOVING ON

Bruce Tangeman, former deputy Revenue commissioner under the Sean Parnell Administration, is gone from his job as CFO at the Alaska Gasline Development Agency.

He exited suddenly last week as the Walker Administration continues to conform the gasline agency to his purpose. The gasline agency is supposed to be independent of the Governor’s Office, but as reported here earlier this year, the two have become indistinguishable.

Also hitting the door is external affairs director Miles Baker, who is taking a month off to travel and unwind before pounding the pavement for work.

Others leaving their positions include Deputy Legislative Director is Lacy Wilcox.

Nathan Butzlaff is leaving the DC Office of the Governor, heading to the Midwest.

MOVING UP

Sarah Palin has found a buyer for her Arizona house, according to the Washington Post.  That means Alaskans are likely to see more of her, unless she secures a spot in the Trump Administration. Just sayin’.

Craig Fleener is now top lobbyist for the State of Alaska, and is house hunting in Washington, D.C.  He will be known as the governor’s director of state and federal relations, and is possibly the highest paid employee of the state. Facing a real learning curve in DC without Nathan Butzlaff to help him, Fleener will also remain the Arctic advisor to the governor.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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