ACORN scandal sees politicians distancing themselves from group
By April MacIntyre Sep 19, 2009, 21:04 GMT
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “A few people have embarrassed ACORN,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said, referring to the employees captured on the video. “We have to have our own investigation.” EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Despite the efforts of ACORN mounting a PR initiative, the publicly funded group is facing more accusations of corruption and outright fraud even from Democrats in Congress, who are abandoning the community organizing group after numerous videos and tapes came to light.
ACORN is a non-partisan grassroots community organization of low-and moderate-income people, the acronym stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN has received an estimated $53 million in federal aid since 1994.
According to the Associated Press, Senate and House Democrats voted Thursday in favor of separate Republican proposals to block federal funding for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
The group has was further embarrassed by video showing ACORN employees advising a couple, posing as a prostitute and pimp, about how to conceal their line of work, evade paying taxes and handle undocumented, under-age sex workers.
James O'Keefe, who described himself to the Los Angeles Times as an investigative journalist "with no formal training," invested $1300 which included a $300 plane ticket to California to visit ACORN sites in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego.
His "prostitute" in the video, Hannah Giles, the daughter of conservative Christian commentator Doug Giles, joined forces and together they secretly videotaped ACORN workers in Washington, Brooklyn and Baltimore who coached the two on how to evade taxes and misrepresent the nature of their business enterprise to get into a home.
According to the AP report, the Senate, 45 Democrats and Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., backed an amendment to bar any funds provided under the fiscal 2010 Interior Appropriations bill to go to ACORN. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the relevant appropriations panel, also insisted there be no funds provided to the group. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has also called for an investigation into California ACORN offices.
“Now that some of the abusive practices are finally coming to light, I think it’s galvanized public opinion, and it’s reflected in the votes of members of Congress,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for a thorough investigation of the group.
“A few people have embarrassed ACORN,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said, referring to the employees captured on the video. “We have to have our own investigation.”
The Census Bureau ended an unpaid partnership with ACORN last week, saying it no longer had “confidence” that the group’s local offices were being managed well.
ACORN has said it believes the undercover videos taken by O'Keefe may have been doctored to appear "more objectionable."