Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ACORN Closes Up April 1

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the community group linked to multiple scandals including voter registration fraud across the country and was implicated in a series of videos showing workers at multiple offices providing dubious information to videographer James O'Keefe, will shut its doors April 1. It had been on the verge of going bankrupt, but with public opinion turned against the organization and funding way down, the group had no choice but to cease operations.

The New York Times public editor had reviewed the coverage of ACORN and the O'Keefe videos and found that while O'Keefe manipulated the videos, the content did show that multiple workers at multiple offices provided shady information to run various illegal operations out of homes that would have been acquired with assistance of the group.
Acorn’s supporters appear to hope that the whole story will fall apart over the issue of what O’Keefe wore: if that was wrong, everything else must be wrong. The record does not support them. If O’Keefe did not dress as a pimp, he clearly presented himself as one: a fellow trying to set up a woman — sometimes along with under-age girls — in a house where they would work as prostitutes. In Washington, he said the prostitution was to finance his future in politics. A worker for Acorn Housing, an allied group, warned him to stay away from the brothel lest someone “get wind that you got a house and that your girlfriend is over there running a house of women of the night. You will not have a career.”

FAIR said that in Brooklyn, O’Keefe and Giles seemed to be telling Acorn staffers that “they are attempting to buy a house to protect child prostitutes from an abusive pimp.” That’s right, but FAIR left out the part about their clear intention to operate a brothel, which the Acorn workers seemed to take in stride, with one warning: “Don’t get caught, ’cause it is against the law.”
So, while the videos were manipulated by O'Keefe for maximum effect, the ACORN workers themselves must take the blame for providing shady information, including turning a blind eye to criminal activities.

Bertha Lewis, who was running the group, had been trying to reform the organization since she took over two years ago. Her time is up.

But don't be surprised if this isn't the last we hear of the group or of Ms. Lewis. After all, I would expect the group to be reconstituted in some form to provide similar services down the road. The ACORN spinoff WFP - Workers Family Party - is still active politically in several states, including New York, so there's still political clout to be had.

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