Ex-ACORN Operatives Playing Role in 'Occupy Wall Street' Movement
The former New York office for ACORN, the disbanded community activist group, is playing a key role in the self-proclaimed "leaderless" "Occupy Wall Street" movement, organizing "guerrilla" protest events and hiring door-to-door canvassers to collect money under the banner of various causes while spending it on protest-related activities.
Sources told FOXNews.com that the former director of New York ACORN, Jon Kest, and his top aides are now busy working at protest events for New York Communities for Change (NYCC). That organization was created in late 2009 when some ACORN offices disbanded and reorganized under new names after undercover video exposes prompted Congress to cut off federal funds.
NYCC's connection to ACORN is not a tenuous one. It works from the former ACORN offices in Brooklyn, uses old ACORN office stationery, employs much of the old ACORN staff and, according to several sources, engages in some of the old organization's controversial techniques to raise money, interest and awareness for the protests.
Sources said NYCC has hired about 100 former ACORN-affiliated staff members from other cities -- paying some of them $100 a day -- to attend and support "Occupy Wall Street." Dozens of New York homeless people recruited from shelters are also being paid to support the protests, at the rate of $10 an hour, the sources said.
Sources said cash donations collected by NYCC on behalf of some unions and various causes are being pooled and spent on "Occupy Wall Street." The money is used to buy supplies, pay staff and cover travel expenses for the ex-ACORN members brought to New York for the protests.
In one such case, sources said, NYCC staff members collected cash donations for what they were told was a United Federation of Teachers fundraising drive, but the money was diverted to the protests.
Sources who participated in the teachers union campaign said NYCC supervisors gave them the addresses of union members and told them to go knock on their doors and ask for contributions -- and did not mention that the money would go toward "Occupy Wall Street" expenses. One source said the campaign raked in about $5,000.
Current staff members at NYCC said the union fundraising drive was called off abruptly last week, and they were told NYCC should not have been raising money for the union at all.
Sources said staff members also collected door-to-door for NYCC's PCB campaign, which aims to test schools for deadly toxins, but then pooled that money together with cash raised for the teachers union and other campaigns to fund "Occupy Wall Street."
Neither NYCC executive director Kest nor his communications director returned repeated email and telephone requests for comment, nor did his communications director.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Harrison Schultz, an "Occupy Wall Street" spokesman, said he knew nothing about NYCC's involvement in the "Occupy" movement.
"Haven't seen them, couldn't tell you," he said.
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