Republican budget demands Congress pull funding from defunct group ACORN

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:50 EDT
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An ACORN supporter at an "Occupy" protest in Vancouver, B.C. Photo: Flickr user mutrock, creative commons licensed.
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The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is being targeted by Republicans for defunding once again, despite the fact that it no longer exists.

The shot at ACORN is contained in a short-term budget bill (PDF) introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). Huffington Post reporter Zach Carter noticed the entry about ACORN first.

The group used to be an umbrella organization of community activists from across the country who mobilized get out the vote efforts in low-income minority communities. Congress defunded ACORN in 2009 after conservative media prankster James O’Keefe produced a selectively edited video featuring him dressed as a “pimp,” purportedly asking an ACORN worker how to run a sex slavery ring and smuggle young girls into the U.S. Allegations of voter fraud followed, although it was never established that the group knowingly submitted fraudulent voter registration cards.

That video, however, was edited to obscure what really happened, and O’Keefe broke California’s privacy laws when he filmed it. In a deal to avoid prosecution brokered by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who’s now governor, O’Keefe turned over unedited footage that shows he was not wearing the “pimp” costume during the confrontation. An attorney general’s report (PDF) also found that the ACORN worker asked O’Keefe for as much detailed information as possible, which was later turned over to the police.

Despite the facts, Republicans in Congress ate O’Keefe’s story up completely and pulled all funding from the group. Allegations of ACORN-led voter fraud have since become part of conservative media lore, to the point where 49 percent of Republicans surveyed by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling group said they think ACORN stole the 2012 presidential election for President Barack Obama.

A Government Accountability Office report in 2010 (PDF) cleared ACORN of all wrongdoing, just over a month after the group formally disbanded.

Photo: Flickr user mutrock, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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