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ACORN Suspends Operations, Starts Investigation

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In the midst of controversy surrounding an ongoing series of videos exposing behavior from ACORN staffers, which CEO Bertha Lewis has now described as “indefensible,” the community activist group has suspended operations nationwide and initiated an internal investigation by board members inclding John Podesta. Lewis stated “we will go to whatever lengths necessary to reestablish the public trust.”

Although ACORN initially attempted to deflect criticism by claiming that employees’ willingness to assist undercover investigators posing as a pimp and prostitute in various crimes were isolated and atypical, as more videos were released and even some prominent Democratic lawmakers began to demand an end to federal funding and a Congressional investigation, it became clear that merely firing the workers involved would not address concerns over problems which appear to be systemic in the organization.

ACORN’s most vocal critics are already describing the internal investigation as another “ruse” designed to deflect serious external investigation and likely to just continue the pattern of shifting blame to employees to avoid accountability for the organization as a whole. Mathew Vadum of American Spectator suggested that ACORN would use the investigation as “a smokescreen and throw lower-level employees to the wolves.”

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    ACORN Take Four, and in my neck of the woods, California! Dave, I like your book choice. LOL

  • Lumpy

    About damn time!

  • Lumpy

    About damn time!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    “as more videos were released…”

    More videos?

    Surely you’ve heard by now that the San Bernardino one is a phony. The woman was winding them up.

  • Lumpy

    He San bernardino one Still looks bad so maybe she should have shut up’

  • Arch Conservative

    Now that Acorn has been exposed we should all be on the lookout come November 2010 for a new community organizer group called Walnut that’s turning in voter registration forms daily by the thousand.

  • Baronius

    Oh, so that’s what a community organizer does!

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    If you’ve seen the San Berdoo video, it’s rather obvious the lady is stringing them along. Makes O’Keefe look like a buffoon

  • Chuck

    ACORN = Corruption

  • Arch Conservative

    Well el..you may think the lady in that video made Okeefe look like a buffoon but congress just voted to suspend funding for Acorn and it’s pretty much do to O’keefe’s videos.

    Gee who got the better of this whole thing…..hmmmm

    O’keffe F-ed them in the A and I’m loving every second of it!

  • Jordan Richardson

    Would this even be news if ACORN primarily registered Republican voters instead of Democrat voters? The only reason Conservatives single out this group is because they “advance a liberal agenda.”

    What about the overall legality of making the videos in the first place? Didn’t they violate state laws that require two-party consent?

    The fact of the matter is that Conservatives are in such an all-fire hurry to pick up anything and everything on a group that registers Dem voters that they’re willing to do anything, including breaking state law, to make it happen. While there may be corruption within ACORN (there is, let’s face facts), there is corruption within almost every single organization on the planet at some level. ACORN sincerely needs to investigate this and the federal funding needs to stop immediately, but let’s be realistic and honest about the motivations behind such an alarmingly huge spotlight.

    Besides, tax evasion techniques aren’t for poor people. Save that shit for the wealthy investors, Wall Street whores and politicians.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Gee who got the better of this whole thing…..hmmmm

    Who? No, really. Who got anything out of this?

  • Arch Conservative

    When you can show the world footage of employees of the moral majority, the 700 club, bob jone suniversity or some other conservative organization offering their services to aid and abet child prostitution or tax evasion then we’ll talk…as it is the fact that you find these videos being made without both parties consent more upsetting than the whole child prostitution thing is upsetting J-man

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Arch, in fact, where there were opportunities videos have been used to expose corrupt people on the right, but it’s almost always isolated individuals, not a large nationwide organization like ACORN.

    And Jordan, if this were a conservative organization I’d be just as concerned about corruption. I’d love to see a similar expose of the American Family Association or another megachurch. I think Robert Tipton has a new church, maybe we can catch him praying over checks again or something.

    It’s not about rich or poor or white or black or conservative or liberal, it’s about abuse of the rights of people of all persuasions and the misappropriation of our federal tax dollars. If there’s a partisan issue here, it’s that a clearly partisan group which also happens to be hideously corrupt and mismanaged is being underwritten with tax dollars taken from citizens who don’t agree with it politically.

    Would you like it if YOUR tax dollars were used to fund a right to life group or a gay conversion ministry?

    Dave

  • Jordan Richardson

    he fact that you find these videos being made without both parties consent more upsetting than the whole child prostitution thing is upsetting J-man

    Um, A-Man, I asked a question about the legality of making the tapes. Who said I was “upset” by anything?

    I’d love to see a similar expose of the American Family Association or another megachurch.

    I’ll stop thinking this is political when you’re on their asses as much as you’re on ACORN’s.

    Would you like it if YOUR tax dollars were used to fund a right to life group or a gay conversion ministry?

    What part of my comment made you think that you needed to ask this question at all? Was it the part where I said federal funding to ACORN needs to stop?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Dave, can you confirm that ACORN has been receiving federal funding since 1994?

  • Clavos

    I’ll stop thinking this is political when you’re on their asses as much as you’re on ACORN’s.

    There’s something wrong with being political? Isn’t this the “Politics” section of BC?

    Mayhap you meant “partisan,” Jordan.

    Yer welcome…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    Y’know, so far I’ve challenged Dave Nalle, Arch-con, and Doug to show me even ONE fraudulent vote cast due to the efforts of that small minority of ACORN workers who did the fraudulent voter registration. I also said that for every single fraudulent vote they found that can be traced to ACORN, I’d show 1000 voters who were wrongfully disenfranchised by Republican and conservative efforts.

    You know what? Not one of them took me up on it…even though I’m giving them 1000-1 odds in their favor! Not one of them has shown even ONE fraudulent vote cast because of ACORN!

    But when it comes to the investigation, frankly, I’m glad to see it and I hope that they work side-by-side with federal investigators. That way, any REAL corruption can be found and rooted out…or if there is not enough corruption found to bring charges (Whitewater comes to mind), we can put this idiocy behind us (and listen to the conservatives claim that the Feds were ordered to leave ACORN alone).

  • Jordan Richardson

    The problem I have with this being made into a political (a: of, pertaining to, or concerned with politics or b: of, pertaining to, or connected with a political party) matter is that it isn’t. It is ultimately a criminal matter, were we to take the accounts at face value.

    Now when politics entered the fray here, the sloppiness of eager politicians, pundits and so-called activists came into play with it. Instead of a federal investigation, we have a couple of video tapes that won’t prove anything in a court of law. I also question the legality of at least one of the tapes. It’s ridiculously easy for ACORN (or any group) to explain away the video tape as a bad apple or as a hoax or as creative editing or anything of the sort. It’s also easy for them to have the entire thing tossed out altogether and for them to counterattack if one of the tapes wasn’t obtained legally.

    In their rush to crucify ACORN, the Right is essentially botching the job with their exuberance. It is about making a political point, for them, not the pursuit of what they believe to be a criminal enterprise. If anyone seriously believed that this organization supported child prostitution and other such heinous activities, to pursue it in such a clusterfucked way is simply irresponsible.

    A federal investigation, with hands-off from all political opportunists, is the only way to proceed to determine the truth. But I think this issue has been so tainted by right-wing zealots out for blood that any truth will be inevitably twisted to the left or the right. ACORN can play the victim of a Conservative conspiracy to nab a group drumming up Democratic votes, giving them a unique way out.

    In other words, the Republicans fucked this up by getting involved on any meaningful public and political level. It is a criminal matter, if the claims are true, and politics of any kind should not play a role in the final analysis.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Jordan, you forget many people would rather win at any cost in this most civil of civil wars taking place. They muckrake and cause distractions and delays and then feign wonderment at why nothing gets done.

    Their ideals failed at the ballot box, so they have no other way to fight than scorched earth. Are we really supposed to believe the firing of Van Jones accomplished anything? Boo hoo, he called Repubs names. Ooh, he’s a Marxist. He questioned what happened on 9/11. So that disqualifies him from helping create new jobs? Find me one unemployed person who is better off because of it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, can you confirm that ACORN has been receiving federal funding since 1994?

    Well, I never claimed that they had been receiving federal funding since 1994, but Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Rep. John Boehner of Ohio have each issued detailed reports on ACORN funding and where it comes from and how much of it is federal money received either directly or indirectly. There’s an overview on FoxNews or I suggest you go look up the reports.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I’ll stop thinking this is political when you’re on their asses as much as you’re on ACORN’s.

    Jordan, go back through my past articles. There are 664 of them. I only had time to review the last half or so. In that set of 300 articles, here’s how often I addressed various top topics:

    Criticized Ron Paul 8
    Pro-Immigration 5
    Pro-Gay Marriage Articles 4
    Articles Explicitly Critical of Religious Right 4
    Supported Ron Paul 3
    Criticized Congressional Spending 3
    Criticized Bush on FISA and PATRIOT Act 3
    Criticized ACORN 2

    So I think you need to reconsider the main thrust of my articles here. This ACORN article is straight facts and links and my previous one was the first critical article on ACORN I’ve written in about 200 articles. It’s hardly a point of obsession for me.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The problem I have with this being made into a political (a: of, pertaining to, or concerned with politics or b: of, pertaining to, or connected with a political party) matter is that it isn’t. It is ultimately a criminal matter, were we to take the accounts at face value.

    I agree. A RICO investigation should have been started long, long ago. The problem is that nothing was done for so long that the fact that nothing was being done made the issue political, because the lack of investigation itself was fishy and aroused partisan anger.

    Maybe now that investigations are starting things will move from the political realm to the realm of the courts and it will all be fine.

    Dave

  • Jordan Richardson

    So you contend that you give as much time to similar organizations on the Right as you do to those on the Left and that you apply the same criticism to both sorts of organizations?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I fail to see what the problem is here. An organization that is starting to stink in the public’s er nose has suspended its operations to figure out what is going wrong. That is prudence and intelligent administration.

    I would find it highly asmusing if ACORN decided to distance itself from its most famous “graduate”, Barack Obama….

    In my opinion, a criminal investigation of the bunch is called for – from top to bottom – simply because corruption tends to flow from top to bottom.

    Naturally everyone is to be presumed innocent – until they prove themselves guilty….

  • Cannonshop

    Well… I’d suggest to anyone as critical of ACORN as I am, to wait and see if this investigation actually goes anywhere. Y’see, there’s always the possibility that they’re not just covering their political asses, they might ACTUALLY be serious about realizing they need to clean up their act.

    I’m not real confident of that, but it’s a possibility that can’t be overlooked in the joy of Schadenfreud.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Glenn, try to focus for just a minute here and maybe you can answer a question for me.

    Here’s a list of ACORN voter fraud indictments and convictions as of the last election.

    I’m sure even you will agree that so much voter registration fraud suggests a pattern. That being the case, what reason would you like to suggest — other than muddying the voter pool to make it impossible to prevent fraudulent votes — for such massive and widespread voter registration fraud?

    I’m sure you can come up with a good reason. Maybe there are some beneficial effects to filling the voter rolls with crap that I’m missing.

    Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

    Dave

  • Jordan Richardson

    Dave, I’d suggest that the previous lack of investigation probably arose from a lack of real evidence. I still don’t believe that there is a foundational corruption to ACORN, as I don’t believe the tapes prove it, but I do believe that it’s worth a look to find out. There is still no REAL evidence to this, however, and that is most likely a result of the way in which the entire process has been handled thus far.

    When we have Tresa Kaelke jesting that she killed her husband because she saw through the subterfuge so clearly, it’s really difficult for anyone to take the other accounts seriously. You have to admit that the tapes are ridiculous and that the media reporting on it, especially that of FOX News, pretty much resembles the most amateur of news reporting. There was no checking of the sources and no fact-checking done with the SB police department at all; FOX just took it to air and continued to repeat the allegations for two days even though it was false.

    It’s this type of shit that makes it really hard to trust any accounting of ACORN’s “wrongdoings” because all parties have clear motives. The Right clearly wants to smear this organization and is going to great lengths to do so, even possibly breaking the law and ignoring the other side of the story, while ACORN themselves clearly will distance themselves from the employees in question.

    You again also have to wonder whether these incidents can really be said to be accurately representative of such a massive organization (1,200 chapters, I think?). Would we judge any other group by such standards? Would you? If so, I’ve got a pretty big list of Republican party corruption that should cause a federal investigation of epic proportions.

    Nevermind the more obvious and ridiculous conflicts of interest, such as that of Hannah Giles (the “hooker” in the tapes) saying to Glenn Beck: …one day I was jogging after work and I saw an ACORN, and I was like, hmm, you know, I’ve never seen them before, I don’t like them.

    Here she is saying not only that she knows dick all about ACORN but that she “doesn’t like them.” Why would her accounting of anything be trusted?

    Were we to take the accounts at face value, which is incredibly hard to do if we’re being logical, there’s a few reasons to investigate certain chapters of ACORN. But with the Right not caring about things like authenticity. In fact, ACORN has reported that the two jokers in the video have been trying this shtick for months before finally getting the responses they’ve been looking for.

    Whether ACORN is telling the truth or not quickly becomes irrelevant when one considers just how botched this thing is. O’Keefe and Giles didn’t do a world of good here; they came across like morons looking for one answer and one answer only and they didn’t stop until they got it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    To be fair, a RICO investigation of Blackwater, Haliburton and the other corporate cronies of the Bush political family is long overdue as well. Then we could add a whole stack of bankers, brokers and corporate execs and other thieves of public monies. Might as well look over the whole mess and jail a whole bunch of scum – from all sides….

    And then to reform the stock market, we could put Bernie Madoff in charge of the SEC. It would be no different than putting Jittery Joe Kennedy in charge of the SEC 75 years ago. Both were swindlers and both presumably would know how a swindler’s mind operates.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    So you contend that you give as much time to similar organizations on the Right as you do to those on the Left and that you apply the same criticism to both sorts of organizations?

    Not exactly. I contend that the malfeasance on the right and the malfeasance on the left take different forms and I attack them both where appropriate, and from my own perspective on the issues. The point is that if you want to talk about organizations I certainly haven’t been any more harsh with ACORN than I have been with – for example – the John Birch Society or the National Day of Prayer idiots.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Jordan, it’s possible that at some point I’ll write an article explaining the real reasons why ACORN has so many problems with corruption and misbehavior and voter fraud — and I do know exactly what the problem is from personal experience as a community organizer — but at this time the article I’ve been considering on this subject would not be appropriate to publish.

    Dave

  • Jordan Richardson

    Isn’t is true that organizations like ACORN are required by law to turn in all voter registration forms, regardless of whether or not they’ve found said forms to be fraudulent/incomplete/suspect?

    So when the GOP blathers on about ACORN turning in several fraudulent voting forms, isn’t that simply what the organization (and ANY similar organization) is required to do by law?

    Or am I thinking of something else?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Jordan, what you are overlooking is the procedures by which they acquire those forms which are explicitly designed to encourage workers to submit fraudulent forms, because they focus on getting filled out forms, not actually getting legitimate potential voters to fill out the forms.

    Dave

  • Deano

    Wait a minute, Dave! You were some kinda “community organeezer”? That’s kinda …socialist…don’tcha think?

    So how long you been a card-carrying commie anyways?

  • Cannonshop

    #34 Deano, believe it or not, people learn from past mistakes. IIRC, Winston Churchill mentioned something to the effect that…

    “If you aren’t a communist at twenty, you have no heart, but if you are still a communist at forty, you have no brain.”

    Mind you, there’s LOTS of brainless folks out there…

  • Just Sayin’

    ACORN receives Federal funds (our tax dollars). The U.S. Justice Department is required to investigate any misuse of Federal funds. What does Eric Holder have to say about this?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    El Bicho –

    Jordan, you forget many people would rather win at any cost in this most civil of civil wars taking place. They muckrake and cause distractions and delays and then feign wonderment at why nothing gets done.

    Well said. Again and again and again I see accusations and assumptions made…and when hard facts, reliable numbers, and provable events are presented that refutes those accusations and assumptions, do they back off? Do they admit error?

    Of course not. Like you said – they would rather win at any cost.

    I’ve seen Dave admit error once…but that’s once more than any of the other conservatives. I learned a long time ago not to trust those who refuse to admit error.

  • Earl

    Meh. There’s a story here, but a pretty minor one. Some idiot members of ACORN were willing to break the law – of course there’s a pretty good argument for entrapment against the investigators, but that doesn’t change the stupidity of the ACORN folks.

    But this is hardly the MAJOR! SHOCKING! SMOKING GUN! type of scandal that some Fox Newsy types are pretending like it is. But I wonder if those folks will be satisfied with the feds denying funding. The Fed money’s just 2% of their operating budget, so cutting it off really won’t affect their work that much.

    So is that cutoff going to be good enough for the Beckites? Or will they keep insisting that they have to shut down a now entirely private org?

  • Baronius

    “The Fed money’s just 2% of their operating budget”

    I’ll bet that there isn’t a person in the world who knows how much federal money ACORN receives. I don’t mean that in any accusatory way, either. It’s just that non-profit funding is very difficult to track. The grants are relatively straightforward, but there are special projects, contracts, public/private partnerships, and quasi-governmental associations, as well as state- and locally-run projects that are financed by federal money. So while a Congressional cutoff may only affect ACORN’s budget by 2%, it’s deceptive to think of them as a private organization.

  • Clavos

    of course there’s a pretty good argument for entrapment against the investigators…

    Nope. The legal prohibition against entrapment only applies to law enforcement, these “investigators” (they weren’t really, except in their own minds) are civilians, so there was no “entrapment.”

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The Fed money’s just 2% of their operating budget, so cutting it off really won’t affect their work that much.

    ACORN says federal money makes up 40% of their budget, not 2%.

    Dave

  • Cannonshop

    #41: Dave, maybe ACORN’s adding in the unpaid taxes of Democratic Operatives in their organization?

  • Baronius

    OK, so maybe Dave is the one person in the world who knows. I still wouldn’t take any number at face value though.

  • Earl

    “ACORN says federal money makes up 40% of their budget, not 2%.”

    Really, Dave? Where and when did ACORN say that? Because their CEO, Bertha Lewis, told National Public Radio this week that 2% figure.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Earl, if ACORN got $53 million in housing assistance funding alone since 1994 (as has been proven), they must have a hell of a budget if that’s just a fraction of 2% of their total budget.

    I would suggest that Bertha Lewis is lying or pretending that money going to various ACORN sub-groups doesn’t count. This would hardly be out of character.

    Lewis is probably pretending that money they get through federal block grants distributed by state and local governments is not really federal money, but it all comes from our tax dollars.

    This article on how ACORN hides its money might be helpful.

    Dave

  • Earl

    Dave, ACORN claims an annual budget of over $100 million. An allotment of $53m over 15 years, which is what you’re talking about, is an average of $3.5 million – or 3.5 percent of their annual budget (assuming a flat $100 mil budget). More than 2%, but that’s without knowing either their exact total budget for this year, or the exact dollar amount of federal funding they’ve received this year. Either way, the federal funds are a pittance.

    And they sure as hell didn’t put up much fight (none at all, really) to keep those federal funds, which can only mean that the loss of that money doesn’t have much effect on ‘em…