What ?? You haven't heard of ACORN's problem? Don't worry, you are not alone, neither has Charlie Gibson, the lead anchor for ABC's World News Tonight.
By way of background, ACORN bills itself as "the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country." According to its website, ACORN is engaged in the following activities on behalf of low and moderate-income people:
Community organizing: Each of the 1,200 local ACORN neighborhood chapters in 110 cities and 40 states brings neighbors together to work for stronger, safer and more just communities.
Issue campaigns: Each ACORN office carries out multiple issue campaigns. ACORN members across the country work to raise the minimum wage or enact living wage policies; eliminate predatory financial practices by mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and tax preparation companies; win the development of affordable housing and community benefits agreements; improve the quality of and funding for urban public schools; rebuild New Orleans; and pass a federal and state ACORN Working
Families Agenda, including paid sick leave for all full time workers. A recent study shows that our issue campaign victories have delivered approximately $15 billion in direct monetary benefits to our membership and constituency over the past 10 years.
So your saying to yourself, well, that's nice, Bru, but why would anyone get all that concerned about a non-partisan, social justice organization? Well, first, the Washington Examiner has reported that ACORN has received $53,000,000 in federal funding since 1994 and is eligible to receive up to $8,000,000,000 in funds from this year's stimulus package. So ACORN uses our money to help fund its activities. Second, while ACORN is supposedly "non-partisan," Barack Obama's presidential campaign paid ACORN's subsidiary Citizens Services Inc. $800,000 for "get-out-the-vote" activities last year. That strikes me as oddly partisan for a non-partisan group. And, third, its voter registration efforts have had some significant verification, er, fraud issues.
Service delivery: ACORN and its allied organizations provide extensive services to our members and constituency. These include free tax preparation focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit; screening for eligibility for federal and state benefit programs; and, through the ACORN Housing Corporation, first time homeowner mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance, and low income housing development.
Ballot initiatives: ACORN-backed ballot-initiative campaigns in 2006 helped raise the minimum wage in Ohio, Arizona, Missouri and Colorado, working with community-faith-labor coalitions on successful campaigns in each state.
Voter participation: Since 2004, ACORN has helped more than 1.7 million low- and moderate-income and minority citizens apply to register to vote.
Now, a 20 year-old female and her 25 year-old male colleague, who were apparently concerned about ACORN's potential malfiesance with federal money, have added a fourth reason for you to care about ACORN. These two activist journalists went to ACORN's various local offices with a hidden video camera, posed as a prostitute and her pimp, explained that they were having trouble getting a mortgage to buy a house, said that they wanted to purchase the house to run a brothel with a bunch of underage girls that they were bringing up from El Salvador, said that they intended to use the proceeds from the brothel to help fund the pimp's future political campaigns, and asked for ACORN's help in getting a mortgage.
The results so far have been devastating. The two activist journalists have released a video a day (excluding the weekend) since last Thursday and posted them at a website they started with the help of Andrew Breitbart. They have also promised more videos in the days to come.
On Thursday of last week, these two videos were released on ACORN's Baltimore, Maryland office:
On Friday of last week, the two videos concerned ACORN's local Washington, D.C.:
Yesterday, the released videos were from ACORN's Brooklyn office:
I understand that today's video will concern an ACORN office in the Los Angeles area.
ACORN has responded by claiming that the videos are doctored lies and stating that they intend to sue the two who made them because Maryland law prohibits videotaping another person without that person's prior knowledge and consent. I think that ACORN might have some First Amendment issues with its potential lawsuit given that these videotapes address a matter of public concern. But we'll see.
Regardless, I cannot see the Democrats rushing to aid an organization with employees who will attempt to help individuals who claim to run a brothel stocked with underage girls from El Salvador. Indeed, Shannon Love (via Instapundit) has noted that these videotapes appear to establish that ACORN has systemic leadership problems:
Update, 9/15, 5:06 p.m.: And, now, it appears that we have reached a new level of crazy:
[A] rule of thumb evolved after observing the failures of millions of computers. We learned that three separate computers would only suffer the same failure if the failure arose from a common source in the computers themselves. Just three machines out of millions told us we most likely had a systemic problem.
This brings me to the Acorn child prostitution scandal.
* One report from an Acorn office was a fluke. Any large organization, public or private of any creed can be infected by amoral individuals who will try to use the organization to commit illegal or unethical acts. No organization larger than a few dozen people can police the actions of every member, all the time.
* Two reports from two separate Acorn offices was just a disturbing coincidence. The same reasoning as above applies, because in a large organizations, just as in a large installed base of computers, it’s possible for two separate bad eggs carrying out the same acts to show up in the same organization.
* Three identical reports of the same failure from three separate offices indicates the criminality arises from the organization itself. It is highly unlikely that, out of the hundreds of Acorn offices around the nation, the journalist just happened to wander into the three offices whose managers wouldn’t blink an eye at helping to set up a brothel using children.
This degree of organizational systemic rot has to come from the head. I think that much is obvious. Something in Acorn’s organizational culture made these people feel that it was okay and expected for them to give the criminal advice that they did. Certainly, if Acorn had been a private for-profit company, three separate and wholly unrelated incidents would have been enough for leftists to demand the heads of the corporate officers.
By the way, the two activist journalists who are publishing these videos in accordance with Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Alinsky is very popular among left-wing community organizers, his followers include President Obama, and his published these rules as a means to bring about a socialist revolution in the U.S.
Alinsky Rule #8 is: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." The journalists behind this campaign against ACORN are following this rule by slowly releasing their videos, and they have promised more to come.