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Cate Edwards, Advocates for Justice and ACORN

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This AP item in today's Washington Post caught our eye, "Cate Edwards, daughter of the former presidential candidate, announces new law firm":

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Cate Edwards, daughter of former presidential candidate John Edwards, has announced she is joining a new public-interest law firm with offices in New York and Washington.

In a post on Twitter, the 30-year-old Edwards said her firm Advocates for Justice will represent "regular, working people."

Yes, and it also appears to be a kissing cousin of the now-defunct radical community organizing group, ACORN.

First, a few notes:

[UPDATE: 9:30 p.m. Perhaps a relaunch? The group has a new, slicker website, www.afjlaw.com. Our reporting below is based on the original website, www.advocatesforjustice.net]

We get curious, a little suspicious, when an organization uses the much misappropriated word "justice" in their title, so sought more information about Advocates for Justice. The group's [original] website, www.advocatesforjustice.net, says it's a 501(c)3, with the following mission:

Advocates for Justice exists to fight fights of working people, to fight for racial justice and equal rights, and to assist those who organize the poor and working people, and who advance the fight for equality. Advocates for Justice will do research, publish educational and investigative materials, and organize lawyers across the country to provide pro bono and low fee legal representation to fulfill its purpose.

The Blog of The Legal Times has more on the firm, "Public Interest Law Firm Opens in D.C., New York."

As noted above, the firm was founded in 2010 by Arthur Z. Schwartz, who now serves as president of the group's board. Schwartz's bio lists him as a partner in Salles and Schwartz and details extensive experience in labor law, representing unions like the Transport Workers Union of Greater New York (Local 100) and the Utility Workers Union of America.

He's also an activist:

From 2009 to 2010 he worked as General Counsel to the nationwide Community Organizing group ACORN, and presently represents New York Communities for Change (8). In 2010 he founded Advocates for Justice in order to provide new resources to people's efforts to use the Courts to address inequality in America.

New York Communities for Change? It's just ACORN with another name, The New York Post reported in a 2011 article, "'ACORN' is reborn in B'klyn" (Great headline!)

Watch out! ACORN is back -- in all but its name.

Backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars in union donations, New York Communities for Change -- a rebranded version of the controversial organization that closed up shop amid several scandals -- is acting again as labor's attack dog on controversial issues.

NYCC took over ACORN's office on Nevins Street in Brooklyn, shares some of the same board members and uses its membership lists and other resources.

And Schwartz is a labor lawyer. (The web is full of stories about the Communities for Change being ACORN's progeny.)

He also represented ACORN in 2009 lawsuits against New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Indiana over voter registration issues.

The name of his firm: "Advocates for Justice and Reform."

As for Advocates for Justice, here's more from its statement of purpose. [UPDATE: From the earlier website]

Advocates for Justice will handle matters addressing questions of environmental justice, occupational safety, predatory banking and unfair foreclosure practices, credit card abuse, immigration reform, inappropriate development, the right to vote, fair elections, the rights of those with disabilities, employment, housing and education discrimination, underpayment of wages, and the right of people to organize and speak out about these issues and many others.

Looks a lot like what ACORN used to do.

Edwards can work for whomever she wants; we're no conspiratorialist: That leftist activist groups have all sorts of interlocking ties comes as no surprise. Still, we consider the radical choice of affiliation of Cate Edwards to be of interest because of her potential political future. Just last week she returned to politics and campaigning: "Cate Edwards Jumps Back Into Politics With Michigan Endorsement."

[UPDATE: 5:50 a.m., Thursday]: John Edwards holds news conference with Houston ACORN activists, 2008. Addresses national convention, 2008, in Detroit. The ACORN doesn't fall far from the tree.]

(The views expressed in this post are entirely my own.)

1 Comment

I am the Executive Director of Advocates for Justice, a non-profit, public interest law firm of which Cate Edwards is a Board member.

Our organization focuses on work with groups involved with community issues. This includes, for example, parents in district and charter schools seeking due process from the New York City Department of Education, parents in Rockland County seeking to hold a local school board accountable for the use of public education funds, workers being exploited by restaurant or supermarket owners who have come together to redress their grievances, and 9/11 survivors seeking compensation per the Zadroga Act who have been mobilized by local civic organizations in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. Our work is provided either at low cost (in accordance with applicable rules) or pro bono.

To clarify one important point in your story: the firm that Ms. Edwards is a new partner in is a separate for-profit entity named Advocates for Justice, Chartered Attorneys. The three principals of that firm are Arthur Schwartz, Cate Edwards and Sharon Eubanks. That is why there is a separate website. That firm will be taking on a broader variety of cases involving individuals as well as groups.

I hope this is helpful.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


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The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.