Non-profit

ACORN

Website:

www.acorn.org

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Full Name:

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Formerly:

Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now

Type:

Left-Wing Community Organizing Group

Status:

Defunct

Founders:

Wade Rathke

Gary Delgado

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, was a left-wing community organizing network. It is now defunct.

2008 Presidential Election Voter Registration Fraud

During the 2008 Presidential Election, ACORN and the charity PROJECT VOTE worked to increase the number of third-party voter registrations, particularly for low-income and minority communities. [1] By October 6, 2008, ACORN claimed it had managed to register up to 1.3 million new voters for the upcoming election. However, it was later revealed that of these, only 450,000 were valid registrations, and another 400,000 were rejected by officials (with the remainder passed off for registrations due to a change of address). [2]

By the end of October 2008, ACORN was facing investigations and charges of voter registration fraud within eleven U.S States (dating between 2004-2008) including Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. [3] The charges ranged from attempts to register false names and addresses, registering people imprisoned at the time, registering names out of a phone book, and submitting faulty registration cards. [4] By 2010, roughly 18 ACORN employees were either convicted of or confessed to committing voter registration fraud. [5] In 2011, the organization itself pled guilty to one count of violating election law within the state of Nevada due to operating a project called “Blackjack” where bonuses were paid to ACORN employees based on the number of voter registrations they could make during the 2008 Presidential Election. [6]

2009 Undercover Videos

In 2009, conservative activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles recorded and released a series of undercover videos in which the two spoke with employees at ACORN offices in Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino. [7] During these videos, the two falsely claimed they were looking for advice on how to conduct illegal activities including evading taxation, smuggling illegal immigrants, and operating prostitution rings. [8] The videos were criticized by the group, claiming that they were heavily edited to paint a more negative picture of its employees, as well as leading to several lawsuits towards O’Keefe and Giles due to lack of consent to being filmed on the part of the employees (claiming it to be a violation under Maryland law). [9] Despite this, following the release, ACORN conducted an internal investigation in which several of the ACORN employees shown on camera speaking with O’Keefe and Giles were fired due to “indefensible” behavior, according to Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s Chief Organizer at the time. [10]

Congressional Reaction

Following the release of the undercover videos, the Internal Revenue Service and Census Bureau agreed to cut ties to the organization, while the Senate voted to strip all housing funds from ACORN through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. [11] Shortly afterward, the U.S. House passed the Defund Acorn Act to block all federal funds towards ACORN, which had been attached to a previous student-loan bill to make the federal government “the sole provider of college loans under federal programs.” [12] Following the passage of both bills, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor commented “ACORN has violated serious federal laws, and today, the House voted to ensure that taxpayer dollars would no longer be used to fund this corrupt organization.” [13] Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented that ACORN’s actions were “inexcusable,” while the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated the conduct seen on the tapes “is completely unacceptable,” and that the Obama administration “takes accountability extremely seriously.” [14] [15]

Bankruptcy and Shut Down

By March 2010, 15 of ACORN’s U.S. state chapters had closed down in wake of the undercover video controversy and lack of federal funds, with several larger state chapters within New York and California branching away to become independent organizations. [16] At the same time, the ACORN board of directors agreed to shut down all remaining ACORN field offices and affiliates by April 1. [17] On November 7, 2010, ACORN filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and worked to dissolve all remaining aspects of the company. [18]

References

  1. “About Page.” Project Vote. Accessed November 27, 2019. http://www.projectvote.org/about/ ^
  2. Falcone, Michael and Michael Moss. “Group’s Tally of New Voters Was Vastly Overstated.” The New York Times, October 23, 2008. Accessed November 26, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/us/politics/24acorn.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin&oref=slogin ^
  3. “Obama and Acorn.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, October 14, 2008. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122394051071230749. ^
  4. “Obama and Acorn.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, October 14, 2008. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122394051071230749. ^
  5. “18 Former ACORN Workers Have Been Convicted or Admitted Guilt in Election Fraud.” Fox News. FOX News Network, February 2, 2015. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/18-former-acorn-workers-have-been-convicted-or-admitted-guilt-in-election-fraud. ^
  6. Shawn, Eric. “ACORN Pleads Guilty to Voter Registration Fraud in Nevada.” Fox News. FOX News Network, February 2, 2015. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/acorn-pleads-guilty-to-voter-registration-fraud-in-nevada. ^
  7. Hong, Sharon. “Video Fix: What Is the ACORN Controversy?” Seattle’s Big Blog, September 17, 2009. https://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2009/09/17/video-fix-what-is-the-acorn-controversy/. ^
  8. Hong, Sharon. “Video Fix: What Is the ACORN Controversy?” Seattle’s Big Blog, September 17, 2009. https://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2009/09/17/video-fix-what-is-the-acorn-controversy/. ^
  9. “ACORN Sues Undercover Filmmakers.” UPI, September 23, 2009. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/09/23/ACORN-sues-undercover-filmmakers/61741253749696/. ^
  10. Hong, Sharon. “Video Fix: What Is the ACORN Controversy?” Seattle’s Big Blog, September 17, 2009. https://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2009/09/17/video-fix-what-is-the-acorn-controversy/. ^
  11. “Congress Votes to Strip ACORN of Federal Funding.” Fox News. FOX News Network, September 17, 2009. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/congress-votes-to-strip-acorn-of-federal-funding.

    ^

  12. Mullins, Brody, and Jake Sherman. “Acorn May Cut Voter-Registration Work.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, September 18, 2009. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB125323372671921657. ^
  13. Congress Votes to Strip ACORN of Federal Funding.” Fox News. FOX News Network, September 17, 2009. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/congress-votes-to-strip-acorn-of-federal-funding. ^
  14. Mullins, Brody, and Jake Sherman. “Acorn May Cut Voter-Registration Work.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, September 18, 2009. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB125323372671921657. ^
  15. “Undercover Videos Threaten ACORN: 6abc.Com: 6abc Philadelphia.” 6abc Philadelphia. Accessed November 27, 2019. https://6abc.com/archive/7019810/. ^
  16. Urbina, Ian. “Acorn on Brink of Bankruptcy, Officials Say.” The New York Times, March 20, 2010. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/20/us/politics/20acorn.html?auth=login-email. ^
  17. “ACORN Closing in Wake of Scandal.” Fox News. FOX News Network, March 25, 2015. https://www.foxnews.com/story/acorn-closing-in-wake-of-scandal. ^
  18. “ACORN Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.” Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2010. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-nov-02-la-pn-acorn-bankruptcy-20101103-story.html. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Aaron Dorfman
    Former Head Organizer
  2. Brian Kettenring
    Former Employee, 1995-2009
  3. Gary Delgado
    Former Initial Organizer

Associated Organizations

  1. Project Vote (Non-profit)
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