Senator Chris Dodd (D), a friend of Angelo, tried to slip a provision into the bailout bill that would send 20% of all profits from resold assets to groups such as ACORN. Aside from rigging elections, what does ACORN do?
WHAT exactly does a “community organizer” do? Barack Obama’s rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here’s a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.
In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes – and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.
In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.
THE seeds of today’s financial meltdown lie in the Community Reinvestment Act – a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.
CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in “subprime” loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.
Any bank that wants to expand or merge with another has to show it has complied with CRA – and approval can be held up by complaints filed by groups like ACORN.
“Humanitarian” greed perhaps?
ONE key pioneer of ACORN’s subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott – an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae’s mortgage policies.
Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in “direct action” – organizers’ term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a “living wage” law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.
In February 1990, Illinois regulators held what was believed to be the first-ever state hearing to consider blocking a thrift merger for lack of compliance with CRA. The challenge was filed by ACORN, led by Talbott. Officials of Bell Federal Savings and Loan Association, her target, complained that ACORN pressure was undermining its ability to meet strict financial requirements it was obligated to uphold and protested being boxed into an “affirmative-action lending policy.” The following years saw Talbott featured in dozens of news stories about pressuring banks into higher-risk minority loans.
IN April 1992, Talbott filed an other precedent-setting complaint using the “community support requirements” of the 1989 savings-and-loan bailout, this time against Avondale Federal Bank for Savings. Within a month, Chicago ACORN had organized its first “bank fair” at Malcolm X College and found 16 Chicago-area financial institutions willing to participate.
Two months later, aided by ACORN organizer Sandra Maxwell, Talbott announced plans to conduct demonstrations in the lobbies of area banks that refused to attend an ACORN-sponsored national bank “summit” in New York. She insisted that banks show a commitment to minority lending by lowering their standards on downpayments and underwriting – for example, by overlooking bad credit histories.
By September 1992, The Chicago Tribune was describing Talbott’s program as “affirmative-action lending” and ACORN was issuing fact sheets bragging about relaxations of credit standards that it had won on behalf of minorities.
And Talbott continued her effort to, as she put it, drag banks “kicking and screaming” into high-risk loans.
It’s unlikely that loans to minorities and the poor account for all the bad mortgages, or that even most loans to minorites are in default, but we have clear evidence of the government pushing lenders into making risky loans, a practice that grew into a crisis.