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ACORN says it will survive scandals

September 18, 2009 7:24:10 PM PDT
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) says it will survive, despite the recent humiliating scandal and the loss of federal funding as a result.

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More undercover video clips keep rolling out, the latest shot at an ACORN office in San Diego. The set up is the same as the videos taken in San Bernardino, Brooklyn and Baltimore -- a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute asking for help in setting up a prostitution ring. On the videos, ACORN employees appear to be giving advice to the woman posing as a prostitute on how to dodge the law.

Last week, 11 ACORN workers in Miami were arrested and charged with voter registration fraud.

Thursday, Congress voted overwhelmingly to cut ACORN from receiving any federal funds.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) was one of the relatively few who refused to go along.

"In no way should we deny federal funds to an organization because a couple of their members and employees were acting totally inappropriately," Lee said.

ACORN is the nation's largest grass roots organization lobbying for poor and minority communities.

In the Bay Area, ACORN has led protests against mortgage lender Countrywide and counseled homeowners facing foreclosure.

At a rally Friday in San Francisco to support mortgage restructuring, Reverend Jesse Jackson said the ACORN tapes should not be used to tar the entire organization.

"Sometimes in our churches we find some bad apples, we eliminate the apples and we move on," Jackson said.

But one of the leaders of the huge conservative rally in Washington this past weekend says it is not a few bad apples.

"This is an organization of bad apples; ACORN itself is a rotten apple," Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams said.

Television and film director Mario Pellegrini was on the National Mall this weekend; he says he heard the voice of the conservative America saying no to ACORN.

"And for them to get new grants and new allotments new allocations under these circumstances, no, they've made their statement, they've proved to the world that they're not what they pretend to be," Pellegrini said.

The co-chair of ACORN in California dismisses the criticism as politically motivated.

"It's just another right-wing ploy to shove the people of color out," Paulette Otten said.

Otten says the funding cut from Congress will not cut into acorn services because it will not take effect until next year, giving the organization time to increase its community fundraising.

"We have a lot of allies out there that will work with us and we're not going down," Otten said.

Thursday, Gov. Schwarzenegger called on Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate ACORN's activities in San Bernardino. It is reasonable to guess the San Diego ACORN office will be added to that request.

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