FR discussions, related topics:
Workers for Acorn, the national community organizing group, recently were caught in an amateur sting so ridiculous it could have been a comedy skit, pulled off by a 25-year-old filmmaker, Bergen County native James O'Keefe.
Dressed as a caricature of a pimp from a really bad movie and accompanied by a scantily clad 20-year-old woman posing as a prostitute, O'Keefe visited Acorn offices seeking advice on how to buy a house and start a business in it -- a brothel. Which, by the way, would employ underage girls from El Salvador.
Anyone with a lick of sense would have started looking for the hidden camera. Or called the cops -- which is exactly what Acorn says its workers in Philadelphia did. But Acorn workers at offices in Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington and California were caught on videotape counseling the preposterous pair on disguising their business and avoiding taxes. An Acorn employee in Baltimore suggested the hooker describe her job as "freelance performing artist" and the pimp consider claiming the young prostitutes as dependents.
What, they couldn't have just sent them to Barnes and Noble for a copy of "Prostitution for Dummies"?
Those snipping sounds you hear are ties to Acorn being cut: The Senate quickly voted to prohibit the Department of Housing and Urban Development from giving it federal housing money. (Proponents of the ban said Acorn had received $53 million in federal funding since 1994.) The Census Bureau dropped Acorn as a partner. House Republican leader John Boehner asked President Obama to cut off all federal financing: "It is evident that Acorn is incapable of using federal funds in a manner consistent with the law," he wrote.
Acorn (the Association of Commuity Organizations for Reform Now) has worked in low- and moderate-income areas for higher minimum wages, more affordable housing and increased voter registration -- all noble causes. But it came under fire during the last election for hiring voter-registration workers who turned in phony names. Since then the group has put in place a new management team, and in response to O'Keefe's videos, Acorn CEO Bertha Lewis has announced its service programs will not take on any new clients until after an independent review of its procedures and re-training for all its frontline staff. As for the workers whose indefensible behavior made them video stars, they've been fired.
Acorn contends the videos were doctored, O'Keefe was turned away at other Acorn offices, and the sting was part of a right-wing effort to destroy the group. Indeed the organization has become a favorite target of conservative groups. But it's clear it needs to clean up its act. And the federal government should turn off the spigot until it does.
ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis announced today the closure of the organization's Philadelphia office and the termination of its Philadelphia-based employees after evidence surfaced of a pervasive judgmental attitude toward, and discriminatory treatment of, citizens involved in the sex industry, and especially the youth portion of the industry.
"Reports have been circulating that 'mystery shoppers' posing as a sex worker and her supervisor approached our Philadelphia office seeking assistance in obtaining a mortgage to purchase a location for their business," said Lewis. "Our internal investigation indicates that these employees not only refused to assist the young entrepreneurs, but even alerted the police to their activities. Such actions likely had racial motivations, and cannot be tolerated by our organization."
Lewis continued, "These same mystery shoppers conducted tests in many of our other offices, all of which passed with flying colors - especially the San Diego office, which scored extra service points for offering to assist in the transportation and smuggling portions of the business.
Lewis went on to explain that, had such a business startup been successful, it would have resulted in better-paying jobs for the child sex slave sector of their constituency, and increased membership dues paid to her organization.
"The fact that the mystery customers were not actually involved in starting up such a business does not change the fact that our offices are expected to help people in situations like this, not turn them in to the racist police. We will be conducting extensive staff training in the coming days to ensure that our clients receive the highest level of service, without regard to the legality or illegality of their endeavors," said Lewis.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who had been highly critical of the Philadelphia office's refusal to assist in the child brothel startup, said, "I think I speak for the entire sex trade industry in welcoming the positive steps ACORN has taken today. Customers and providers alike - both of which roles I have filled from time to time - rely on a robust and healthy industry, and that needs to include a certain number of young people, especially of international origin."
ACORN indicates that its Philadelphia office will remain closed until they are able to hire replacement staff.
My twisted mind
Yes, this is a vanity satire.
"Hey, you know, these guys are all basically one step removed from ordinary street thugs and what not, it just shouldn't be that terribly hard to show that to the American people. Let's simply show the world what happens when these guys are given opportunities to revert to form..."
Sep 21, 10:29 PM EDT
Police: ACORN worker in video reported couple
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NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.
National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.
Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple's high-profile expose.
Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.
The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped.
Vera was fired on Thursday.
Cyclop, it is well and good she reported the incident to authorities, but what explanation has she (or any of the others) given for giving that sort of advise in the first place? The whole story is somewhat bizarre and a little unbelievable that anyone would be that dumb in the first place and currupt in the second place.
ACORN Sues Over Damaging Video
Secret Recording in Baltimore Violated Wiretapping Law, Liberal Group Says
ACORN, the community organizing group embarrassed recently in a video sting, said Wednesday that it needs to determine whether it has major internal problems, but it also struck back, filing a lawsuit against the people who conducted the secret investigation.
Bertha Lewis, head of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, told reporters in a conference call that ACORN does not support criminal activity and that it thinks the filmmakers should have obeyed Maryland laws. In the state, where one video that embarrassed ACORN was made, the act constituted illegal wiretapping, the suit says.
The videos airing in the past two weeks show ACORN housing counselors advising two young conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to conceal their criminal business.
It seems to me that this scandal is being blown up to ridiculous proportions. No one is considering the good that ACORN does, and how minor this scam is....