ACORN, the embattled community activist group, says it is disbanding.
The group, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, claims it will close its affiliates and field offices by April 1st. But some of its critics think the move is really an April fool's switch. They claim ACORN actually isn't going anywhere, just rebranding under different local organizations with new names but with the same mission.
ACORN has faced a variety of allegations over the past two years, from voter registration fraud to Republican charges that it uses public funds for liberal political purposes. ACORN workers have gone to jail, and undercover tapes of ACORN workers seemingly giving advice on how to skirt the law especially made the group a lightning rod for criticism.
ACORN has denied the charges, pointing to its own commissioned investigation that found allegations against it baseless.
"ACORN has faced a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era," claims ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis. In a statement she said in part, "Our effective work empowering African-Americans and low-income voters made us a target."
You know, I am so tired of being called a racist for calling people on their actions, and this is no exception. It has NOTHING to do with who ACORN helps, but HOW it helps them:
But critics say ACORN's undoing is entirely its own fault.
"I don't think we are done with this," Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, a noted ACORN critic, told Fox News. "This is a big step in the right direction because I believe they are a corrupt, criminal enterprise."
King calls the move "a downsize of ACORN," but believes its operations will be shifted to state organizations that "may well grow." He says “tigers don’t change their stripes and neither to people who are operating in a corrupt fashion.”
Critics point to a variety of new local organizations that are springing up to apparently take ACORN's place. In Brooklyn, New York the ACORN office now has a new sign: "New York Communities for Change," and in Massachusetts the president of the new group, "New England United for Justice" is listed as Maude Hurd, the president of ACORN, in its articles of Organization.
There are a growing number of such local groups replacing ACORN, according to Matthew Vadum, of the Capital Research Center. He says ACORN Housing has changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America, Inc., and that other ACORN connected groups include: Arkansas Community Organizations, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and Missourians Organizing for Reform Empowerment.
"This is a trick, a public relations trick," says Vadum, calling the move an attempt "to dupe Congress and the American people to think they have gone away and they have not." He says "the same people are running the new chapters that have sprung up and in some cases, out of the same offices."
Yep, that's pretty much what I think, too, that this is more smoke and mirrors from the group for whom our Smoke and Mirrors President did his internship.
As a reminder of why ACORN's funds were cut:
The moves in Congress to cut ACORN's funding came after the shocking undercover video-tapes made by conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles who posed as a pimp and a prostitute trying to secure ACORN's help to open a supposed brothel using underage girls. A federal Judge has since declared the Congressional move unconstitutional, but the financial damage may have been done. Several federal agencies have cut their ACORN funding and ACORN even tried to use the example of the tapes for fundraising purposes.
Giles has not returned a request for comment on ACORN's announcement, and O'Keefe told me he cannot comment because of the on-going investigation of another of his video projects. He and three others have been charged with trying to "manipulate" the phone system of Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. O'Keefe says he was engaged in a journalistic endeavor, going undercover to try and show that there was no problem with the Senator's phone system during the run-up to the health care vote.
Another article goes into a little more detail from ACORN's perspective:
ACORN to Shut Down in Wake of Scandal
The once mighty community activist group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues -- six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.
"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.
Again, it apparently has NOTHING to do with this organization engaging in voter registration fraud, voter fraud, and counseling in ways to subvert the tax system, among other issues. Yeah, it's all "partisan." Way to take any accountability there. What else is new??
But are they really disbanding? Like I said, I don't think so. An ACORN by any other name is still ACORN:
Several of its largest affiliates, including ACORN New York and ACORN California, broke away this year and changed their names in a bid to ditch the tarnished image of their parent organization and restore revenue that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal.
ACORN's financial situation and reputation went into free fall within days of the videos' release in September. Congress reacted by yanking ACORN's federal funding, private donors held back cash and scores of ACORN offices closed.
Earlier this month, a U.S. judge reiterated an earlier ruling that the federal law blacklisting ACORN and groups allied with it was unconstitutional because it singled them out. But that didn't mean any money would be automatically be restored.
Bertha Lewis, the CEO of ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, alluded to financial hardships in a weekend statement as the group's board prepared to deliberate by phone.
"ACORN has faced a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era," she said. "The videos were a manufactured, sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress."
ACORN's board decided to close remaining state affiliates and field offices by April 1 because of falling revenues, with some national operations will continue operating for at least several weeks before shutting for good, Whelan said Monday.
For years, ACORN could draw on 400,000 members to lobby for liberal causes, such as raising the minimum wage or adopting universal health care. ACORN was arguably most successful at registering hundreds of thousands of low-income voters, though that mission was dogged by fraud allegations, including that some workers submitted forms signed by 'Mickey Mouse' or other cartoon characters.
Yes, Mickey Mouse was but one fictional character "signed up" by ACORN workers. As I have noted about a GAZILLION times, they have been under investigation in up to 14 states, including Florida, Nevada, and Louisiana, for submitting THOUSANDS of false voter registrations. Recently, a conviction for voter fraud was returned in Pennsylvania for an ACORN worker.
So, enough with the "poor me" victim crapola. ACORN brought this on themselves with their underhanded, illegal dealings. Having to disband because their funding is cut is just what happens when organizations operate in unlawful ways.
But is ACORN really running out of money? Not if Peter Orzag has anything to say about it, and he does. That would explain the name changes, and the April 1st date:
While America is distracted by Democrats’ attempts to unconstitutionally ram government-run healthcare down the throats of the American people, the Obama administration began preparing to resume funding to President Obama’s favorite community organizing group.
The fiscal floodgates are opening for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the president’s former employer and legal client, despite a congressional ban on funding the activist group that has long been a practitioner of election fraud.
In a March 16 memo Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Peter Orszag quietly ordered federal agencies to resume funding the group whose employees were caught on hidden camera videos last year condoning a variety of crimes including child prostitution and tax evasion.
Well, I'll be darned. Someone inside Obama's office is making sure ACORN gets its funds restored, all while we are focused on the Healthcare Legislation. The ol' "Look over there!" trick. Well, that sleight of hand almost worked. But now we know Obama's buddy is looking out for his his buddies. Seems ACORN, or whatever it's calling itself these days, is here to stay, if Obama has his way...