Awful: ACORN Will Shut Down For Good
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Following months of relentless attacks by Republicans over a manufactured scandal that its employees doled out illegal advice to a right-wing filmmaker and his conservative colleague, the poor people's advocacy group ACORN announced Monday that it will permanently shut its doors.
"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activist that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," said ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan.
According to a statement released by the organization:
The ACORN Association Board met on Sunday March 21 and approved a set of steps to responsibly manage the process of bringing its operations to a close over the coming months. These include:
- Closing ACORN's remaining state affiliates and field offices by April 1st; and
- Developing a plan to resolve all outstanding debts, obligations and other issues.
ACORN's members have a great deal to be proud of--from promoting to homeownership to helping rebuild New Orleans, from raising wages to winning safer streets, from training community leaders to promoting voter participation --- ACORN members have worked hard to create stronger to communities, a more inclusive democracy, and a more just nation.
ACORN was founded 40 years ago and is the largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people, with more than 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities across the country. The national organization is based in Washington, DC, and deals with finances and governance. It also coordinates national issues-based campaigns and voter registration drives.
ACORN evolved from a grassroots, community-based organization with a mission of advocacy for the poor and powerless into a major national entity in both scope and ambition. Historically, ACORN has, as part of its community-organizing mission, provided a range of services for its constituency, including citizen engagement, lobbying, political mobilization, voter registration and advocacy about foreclosure prevention, fair wage laws, affordable housing, first-time home ownership, predatory lending reform and mortgage protection.
The furor over ACORN was touched off by conservative filmmaker James E. O'Keefe III and a right-wing columnist who posed as a couple planning to buy a house for use as a brothel and getting advice from a few ACORN employees, rather than being turned away.
The pair filmed their meetings at ACORN offices with a hidden camera, producing a video that brought to a fever pitch the long-simmering Republican war against ACORN. They edited the videos to make it appear as if they were dressed as a pimp and a prostitute when they entered ACORN's office to speak to the organization's employees, which the mainstream media reported as fact.
The video was trumpeted by Fox News and other right-wing news outlets, starting a stampede in the mainstream press and in Congress, where a majority of panicked Democrats joined the herd in approving legislation to strip ACORN of federal funds. The stampede, which trampled ACORN and its mostly black and Hispanic organizing staff, soon pulled in President Barack Obama, who often has touted his work as a community organizer in his youth. [For background, please see this exclusive interview Truthout's Matt Renner conducted with ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis as well as this investigative report documenting the Republican war against the organization.]
ACORN fired the employees who advised O'Keefe and his associate, Hannah Giles and later filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against them, alleging the pair violated Maryland State law, where one of the hidden-camera videos was filmed, which states that both parties must agree to sound recordings. ACORN also hired a former attorney general of Massachusetts to conduct an internal probe into its own operations.