Monday, September 14, 2009

ACORN's Roasting on an Open Fire

Note: This is piece is for my newspaper column, which will run in the Lake Chelan Mirror this week. I typically hold my column until a week after it's published before I post it here, but because of the time-sensitive nature of the topic, I'm posting it on before it's actually published. As if to prove how time-sensitive the topic is, since I sent it off to my editor, a third video (this one in New York) has been made public and the Senate has voted to cut housing funding for ACORN.

I don’t often use The Gonzo Mama column to wax political, and when I do, I tend to receive hate mail. However, recent events have led me to once again use (or abuse) my column for the purpose of speaking out.

An important part of being an American mom is being aware of what’s going on in my government. I care how they represent me and how they spend my tax dollars. I would never want to think that my government would pour money into a program that would hurt my children – or anyone else’s children.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has received millions of federal dollars in grants for programs such as registering minority voters, housing needy families and providing free tax preparation. Millions of dollars. Taxpayer dollars.

I’m not going to tell you that encouraging minorities to register to vote or assisting people with their tax returns or helping families find housing are bad things. They aren’t. In fact, many non-profit organizations across the country do those very things, without big money from the federal government.

What if your tax dollars – dollars taken off the top of your family’s income – were used to pay workers who created fraudulent voter records? What if your family’s financial contribution to our nation was used to help criminals set up phony business fronts to circumvent the IRS? What if your money was used to facilitate the trafficking of child sex workers?

You say that type of thing only happens in corrupt governments? You say not here, in our great nation? Think again.

ACORN has been implicated in voter fraud in 15 states – most notably Nevada, where a Las Vegas field director has plead guilty and is providing testimony against ACORN leaders in exchange for 13 felony counts against him being dropped; and recently Florida, where 11 ACORN workers have been arrested after ACORN found "numerous discrepancies" in over half of voter registration cards collected in Homestead.

Last week, posted an undercover video taped in ACORN’s Baltimore, Maryland office by two young journalists posing as a prostitute and her pimp boyfriend who plans to run for Congress. An ACORN tax specialist advised the “prostitute” to file her taxes as a “performance artist” in order to create a seemingly legitimate business to filter her $8000 cash so that money could be deposited into the boyfriend’s campaign fund.

When the couple explained that they needed help getting a house for the “prostitute” to work from and house the 13 underage sex workers she intended to bring from El Salvador, ACORN’s housing specialist offered advice on how to train the girls to “keep their mouths shut” about working as prostitutes. The tax specialist chimed back in to say that the “prostitute” should claim three of the girls as dependents in order to get child tax credits – but not all 13, because that would send a “flag” up to the IRS.

ACORN quickly responded to the video, claiming it to be a fake and demanding to see the full transcript of the audio recording. complied in short order. ACORN insisted that the two employees were not representative of the organization as a whole, claimed that the undercover actors had tried the stunt in other offices and failed, and accused conservatives of trying to smear the good name of ACORN.

Their statement almost held water… until the following day, when posted yet another undercover video; this one taken at ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office. The same journalists played the same roles for an entirely different office of ACORN workers, but got shockingly similar results.

Am I losing my mind, or is there something very scary about our government giving millions of taxpayer dollars to an organization whose employees are either so corrupt or poorly screened that they are willing to conspire to commit or actually commit voter fraud, tax fraud, prostitution, and child sex trafficking?

President Obama’s roots run deep with ACORN. He represented them in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois in 1995, and taught classes for future leaders identified by ACORN. The political action committee for ACORN endorsed Obama during his presidential campaign in 2008. The Obama campaign paid $800,000 to an ACORN subsidiary for “get out the vote” activities. Between 2000 and 2002, the Chicago ACORN office received $190,000 in grants from a foundation whose board of directors included Barack Obama.

It’s clear that ACORN and the president have an ongoing romance, but it’s time for the break-up. It’s time for our president to part ways with an organization that – when no one is looking – will put young children at risk by conspiring to facilitate means for a brothel of underage prostitutes, and tell their pimp how to get a tax credit for it.

As a mother, as an American, I think it’s time for Obama to denounce ACORN and bark up a different tree.

If you need a reason to send me hate mail, read my new political blog at

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