Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ACORN Comes Under Closer Scrutiny In New York

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has opened an investigation into ACORN's activities in the state following the videos released in the past week showing the Brooklyn office providing guidance on how to set up a brothel and engage in child prostitution. That's on top of state officials calling into question how money provided in member items was spent:

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo yesterday launched an investigation into pork-barrel grants given to ACORN by state lawmakers, as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn froze all city funding earmarked for the scandal-scared community-activism organization.

The actions by the Democratic officials followed release of a shocking undercover video that showed employees at a Brooklyn ACORN office giving illicit financial advice to activists posing as a pimp and prostitute who wanted to start a brothel.


The agency was among several ACORN affiliates, including offices in Baltimore, Washington and San Bernardino, Calif., exposed in the hidden-camera sting.

On Monday, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to block federal funding to the community group, while Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes opened an investigation into the local office in response to a report in The Post.

A spokesman for Cuomo said the attorney general would seek to make sure pork-barrel grants directed to ACORN by state lawmakers were spent on tax-preparation and loan-counseling services, as intended.
Actually, those pork-barrel grants (the member items) do not necessarily specify that they go to tax-preparation or loan counseling services. That may be where you would hope the money goes, but they don't specifically set out how monies should be spent when dividing up member items in the state budget.

Meanwhile, San Bernardino police have contacted former husbands of Tresa Kaelke, who alleged that she killed one of her husbands and would have no problem doing it again. They're all apparently alive and well although one has a restraining order out on her, all of which goes to Kaelke's credibility and state of mind.

The New York Times finally ran one of its reporters out to discuss the developing situation with ACORN, but he focuses on the partisanship of those pushing the videos and avoids serious scrutiny of the discussion of illegal activities on the videos.

The fact is that ACORN hires people with a certain moral and ethical flexibility that allows them to slip right into these kinds of conversations with the greatest of ease. They had no problem discussing how to avoid legal entanglements for running child prostitution rings, brothels, and other illegal activities out of properties purchased with ACORN's assistance.

What that suggests is that ACORN training is far from okay. It suggests a serious breakdown of procedures, and a failure of oversight. It also suggests that the organization needs a thorough housecleaning if they want to get government funds to bolster their operations around the country.

Keep in mind that ACORN has gained at least $1.5 million from New York state and city government in the past four years alone. As the Post notes:
The group and its affiliates have received at least $1.5 million in city and state legislative grants in the last four years, according to a Post review of grant records.

Council budgets from fiscal years 2010, 2009 and 2008 show members showered ACORN and its affiliates with at least $644,500.

ACORN and the tax-exempt affiliate featured in the video, New York ACORN Housing Company, have received at least $890,000 in pork from state lawmakers in the last four years
That's just in New York. Other states have similar arrangements and the group rakes in money all across the country.

The laugh of the day comes from ACORN's latest excuse for the actions of its employees in the videos. "They were just playing along."

If they were playing along, how come ACORN has already fired at least four people in connection with the videos? The latest excuse is just another lame attempt to cover for the criminal stupidity viewed on those videos.

UPDATE:
As Michelle Malkin notes, ACORN insiders are on the record as saying that the internal financial structures make it virtually impossible to keep track of where the money goes and what it's being spent on. ACORN engages in community organizing and political activities in addition to homeowner assistance. So, while AG Cuomo says that he's going to make sure that the money goes to homeowner assistance, it will not be possible to do so unless he's about to engage in a massive audit of ACORN activities and finances in the state going back years. Moreover, the inability to keep such activities and monies separate puts the group's tax exempt status in jeopardy.

UPDATE:
A confidential source has told me to expect another ACORN tape today, although circumstances may push the release of another tape until tomorrow.

UPDATE:
Anonymous email sends along that Jon Stewart skewers ACORN:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Audacity of Hos
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests


Ouch.

UPDATE:
Instapundit links. Thanks!

UPDATE:
Via Don Surber, Biggovernment.com reports that ACORN's management has haltednew intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review. The White House calls ACORN's employees' actions unacceptable.


 


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