The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has been a prime target for conservative groups and politicians. I sat down with Bertha Lewis, CEO and chief organizer for ACORN to discuss the recent events and the state of the organization.
California Congressman Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a report lambasting ACORN in July 2009. A firestorm of media commentary erupted after ACORN employees were surreptitiously recorded by right-wing activists Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, who posed as a prostitute and her boyfriend and sought advice on housing and tax evasion from the ACORN staff.
The media hype and the accusations by Issa led to passage of the “Defund ACORN ACT,” legislation stripping ACORN of all federal money it received. This Congressional action was later found to be unconstitutional by a federal court in New York, but much of the damage had already been done to the organization and to the populations it serves.
A recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that ACORN did not break the law in the past five years, contradicting the claims of the right wing. However, unlike the tape recordings and the bombastic accusations, the report clearing ACORN received little attention.
Truthout has been following the ACORN situation closely. For detailed coverage, read our past reporting:
- Report Says ACORN Didn’t Commit Voter Fraud or Misuse Federal Funding
- Federal Judge Grants Injunction Against Congressional Defunding of ACORN
- ACORN Did Nothing Illegal, Independent Probe Finds
- ACORN Sues Federal Government Over Congress’ “Unconstitutional” Move to Defund Group
- The Republican War Against ACORN