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ASSOCIATION COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS FOR REFORM NOW (ACORN) v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/31/82)

decided: March 31, 1982.

ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS FOR REFORM NOW (ACORN), PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, COMMISSION ON CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Commission on Charitable Organizations in case of In The Matter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), dated June 30, 1980.

COUNSEL

Carole A. Wood, with her Louis S. Rulli, for petitioner.

Cynthia M. Williams, Assistant Attorney General, with her David F. Phifer, General Counsel, and Harvey Bartle, III, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Mencer, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Mencer

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 535]

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has appealed from an order of the Commission on Charitable Organizations (Commission) which enjoined ACORN from further solicitation activities for failing to register with the Department of State as a charitable organization. We reverse.

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 536]

Section 3(a) of the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act (Act), Act of August 9, 1963, P.L. 628, as amended, 10 P.S. § 160-3(a), provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(a) Every charitable organization which intends to solicit contributions within this Commonwealth, or have funds solicited on its behalf, shall, prior to any solicitation, file a registration statement with the department upon forms prescribed by the commission, which shall be good for one full year and which shall be refiled in the next and each following year in which such charitable organization is engaged in solicitation activities.

Section 2(1) of the Act, 10 P.S. § 160-2(1), defines a "charitable organization" as "a person which is or holds itself out to be a benevolent, educational, philanthropic, humane, patriotic, religious or eleemosynary organization or any person which solicits or obtains contributions solicited from the public for charitable purposes after the effective date of this act."

When ACORN failed to file an annual registration statement, a hearing was held before the Commission on April 15, 1980, to determine whether ACORN is a charitable organization subject to the Act's registration requirements. The Commission made the following relevant findings of fact:

7. The purpose of ACORN is to enhance the quality of neighborhoods.

8. ACORN states that it has won countless neighborhood improvements throughout Philadelphia, including: better housing conditions, more police protection, vacant lot clean-ups, more recreation facilities, improved traffic safety and public transportation, increased city support for community health and day care facilities.

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 5379]

. Testimony was presented that an example of an ACORN project involved the organizing of a South Philadelphia group to persuade officials by blocking ...


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