ACORN problems continue to mount
The non-profit ACORN has been involved in a series of serious allegations, all of which have put into question not only their policies but also the legitimacy of their work for the underprivileged and their fight for families looking to become first time homeowners.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has a long history of service and defense for those in need, many of them African American or Hispanic families.
But arrest warrants have been filed against 11 ACORN employees in Florida, accused of improperly filling out voter registrations, and the probe into probable fraud in the 2008 general elections has lead to the loss of ACORN’s contract with the Census bureau.
Just a few days ago Congress voted to stop giving federal funds to ACORN, who until now has received an average of 2 million dollars of federal funds a year.
And finally, a conservative documentary film maker released a series of videos showing ACORN employees in their Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington D.C, San Bernardino and San Diego offices, who all agreed to help a pimp and prostitute duo evade taxes and set up a brothel with under aged girls.
In the videos, a couple is seen talking to various ACORN employees and asking them advice on how to evade taxes and how to open a brothel, and how to smuggle at least a dozen underage girls, all around 13 to 15 years of age, to be trafficked into the US from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
In the case of National City, California, the video shows Juan Carlos Vera, an immigration advisor for ACORN, apparently arranging the smuggling of the girls into the United States to be sexually exploited by the pimp and prostitute.
The video was taped in the ACORN office on 35th street in National City and shows Vera asking the alleged prostitute for prices and assuring them that he can arrange the smuggling to take place from Mexico.
“It’s better that you bring the girls up to Tijuana…I know people there, I have contacts there” says Vera in the video, “It’s funny that we have an immigration event on Friday and that same night or early Saturday those girls will be crossing, it’s just odd.”
The videos where filmed by James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles and posted on the conservative website Biggoverment.com. In the site profile, O’Keefe describes himself as an activist and videographer defending conservative causes with his work, including an undercover video he did with Planned Parenthood.
The answer and future of ACORN
The videos were soon replayed all over the mass media, including FOX and CNN, and resulted in a series of comments in conservative talk shows, political blogs and even twitter.
The response was fast.
ACORN director, Bertha Lewis, published a statement in their official website, – www.acorn.org:
“As a result of the indefensible action of a handful of our employees, I am, in consultation with ACORN’s Executive Committee1, immediately ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review. I have also communicated with ACORN’s independent Advisory Council, and they will assist ACORN in naming an independent auditor and investigator to conduct a thorough review of all of the organizations relevant systems and processes” read Lewis’s statement.
ACORN was funded over 35 years ago looking to provide quality services to people in need, and to help them access health, education, living and environmental justice.
Currently it has over 100 offices all over the US and recently expanded into México, Canadá, and Argentina.
Conservative groups linked to the Republican Party have been aggressively confronting ACORN for the past year, because of their belief that ACORN committed electoral fraud in the last election.
In the eye of the storm, many groups have come to ACORN’s defense, but there is a recent report in Washington, ordered by California Congressman Darrell Issa, (R-Vista), head of the Housing Committee, where investigators claim federal funds have been given over from ACORN to about 360 subsidiaries, created to cover up the embezzlement of one of the brothers of ACORN founder.
Even the editorial comment at La Opinion newspaper seams to doubt the immediate future of the organization and faces the prospects on its reaction to these accusations.
“ACORN has the final responsibility of the situation they are in, and eventually they will need to make an exhaustive revision to decide that will determine their future. No organization is indispensable despite having a long history of past glory. An organization is evaluated by its present and responsibility in giving quality services to the community” the September 20th editorial states.
Be it what it may, the investigations are now in place and ACORN operations will be put under the microscope, and what they find might as well put all community organizers on the spot.
In a related story the San Diego County Board of Supervisors had been asked to conduct a forensic investigation into the National City ACORN operations. The county officials decided not to open an investigation but will assist the state attorney general and the district attorney in any review of ACORN’s voter registration drive last year.