November 4th, 2008
04:34 PM ET
10 years ago

Covering ACORN with a hatchet

ACORN members rally in Washington last March.

ACORN members rally in Washington last March.

(CNN) - So today I got a letter sent to all Catholic Bishops in the U.S. announcing that due to serious problems at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is suspending all funds to ACORN.

It’s significant because the Catholic Church in the U.S. has given $7.3 million dollars to ACORN projects over the past decade. Just last year, U.S. Catholics gave more than a million dollars to ACORN. And it appears some of that money filtered down to the ACORN office in Las Vegas that made headlines trying to register the Dallas Cowboys football team to vote in Nevada.

The problem for the Catholics is two fold:

1. The Catholic Church is concerned about its own tax exempt status being involved in a group that is now so deeply involved in political support of one candidate.
2. The Catholic Church says questions have arisen about ACORNS financial management, fiscal transparency and accountability.

So, of course, I immediately called ACORN’s spokesperson Scott Levenson, one of many public relations specialists brought on by ACORN to fight all this bad press. And here is Scott’s response to the question about the Catholic bishop’s freezing ACORN funding:

“The facts are wrong and we will no longer participate in a Drew Griffin hatchet job against ACORN.”

Less than an hour later, after our editorial director made a call to ACORN asking if this really was their response, we got this from another public relations specialist ACORN brought on to fight the bad publicity:

“ACORN is grateful to have received CCHD funding for many years, and proud that CCHD has enabled us to help our low income constituency achieve the American Dream. We know that CCHD is reviewing their current funding, and we are in discussions with them about continuing their support.” Steve Kest, ACORN Executive Director

The tension over at ACORN must be so thick you could cut it with a …well, I guess a hatchet.

Filed under: ACORN
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. Joe

    Aimee, That is the most ignorant comment I've ever heard come out of anyone's mouth. "another reason why I'm no longer Catholic"
    gimme a break!

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Truth

    You people know nothing about Acorn when you speak ill of it. You know nothing about how voter registration is performed and checked for fraud. You people are ignorant sheep bleating about a wolf when it is really another one of you as the real wolf sneaks up behind you.

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. Cary

    I don't think this would have happened if Wade Rathke's brother hadn't embezzled about $1 million from ACORN which staff decided to hide from the Board. That's what is meant by lack of transparency. It's was a grievous error judgment on ACORN's management's part and now they're paying the price.

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Young Voter

    So, to be honest I have been telling everyone I am going to vote Obama, but I just couldnt do it when it came time to vote. should I feel guilty?

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. Tim

    You know, you would think if you took the time to voice your opinion on an open forum, you would also take the time to research what the heck you are talking about. Look into voter fraud a little bit. Just because Jesus Christ registered to vote doesn't mean he will show up to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Mel Springfield, Oregon

    Acorn is like unions, they were a good idea once upon a time but they have outlived their purpose and are corrupt.
    Get rid of them!

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. tekjannsen76

    Dung Heap Griffin, when have you shown or demonstrated in your dung heaping investigation anything done wrong by the organization as a whole? The folks that have participated in any wrong doing certainly deserve your unwanted attention and your undilligent skills. You and them are the worst things about America. Hopefully either Obama or god forbid McCain will set about to fix things enough so we no longer have to endure your garbage Dung Heap. You can't even give us the whole picture Heap. I am sure TMZ could use another sleazy "reporter" on their team. Why don't you take you lack of skills there.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. jake747

    I will be waiting for 1 single piece of evidence of VOTER FRAUD committed by ACORN. The FBI will find nothing. What ACORN has done is hired lots of low skilled workers to meet registration quotas. So, they fill out bogus forms. That's about it. Those registration forms MUST be turned in, by law. ACORN has pointed out problemed forms themselves. The only way it amounts to VOTER FRAUD, is if that card to Mickey Mouse actually gets issued, then Mickey Mouse actually votes. This is nonsense and overblown. ACORN poses no threat. Just wasted paper. Just watch when the FBI issues a report.

    November 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Lisa P

    ACORN has done some good work in the past with some very underserved (to use the favorite euphemism) populations. It's unfortunate that they are having some problems now and that one side is exaggerating those problems and keeping them in the headlines for purely partisan reasons. This story is a prime example - talk about kicking a group when it's down! Let ACORN and the Catholic Church work out their own problems without the free-form mockery from an unhelpful bystander.

    November 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. Skysaw

    Aimee –
    Why, because they dropped support for ACORN, or because they supported them in the first place? Your comment is a somewhat humorous non-sequitur until that is resolved..

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. angie in dallas 28

    4 hours to go!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Mike (Philly)

    What did you expect to hear from ACORN's PR people ? Rather than admit that they have a problem they would prefer to blame someone else. Time to take responsibility and for the patient to admit themselves into the twelve step program.

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. California Gold

    I don't have a qualm with a funding organization ensuring a recipient organization isn't involved with shenanigans. People donate to non-profits every year and you can bet donations will dwindle if there is any aire of impropriety. What I will be looking for is the outcome and resolution.

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Elliot

    This is the same ACORN McCain addressed in 2006, congratulating them on a job well done and highlighting their cause, correct? How partisan can they be?

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. Common Sense

    There is a lot of ignorance on this comment board. First off, YOUR tax dollars do not support tax exempt organizations. tax exempt organizations simply don't pay taxes. If that angers you maybe you should start demanding the hundreds of Fortune 500 companies that that end up paying no taxes start throwing in their share.

    Second, ACORN is a low income lobby and organizing group. They've helped force gas companies to quit redlining poor districts, went after predator lending (same sort of lending that brought on the housing collapse.)

    And finally, it is not the job of voter registration groups to check names. That is the legal job of the Supervisors of Elections and nobody's voting twice.

    Why didn't all you people who've suddenly become concerned with voter fraud stand up when over four thousand votes went to Bush from a county of over 600 in '04? Right, voter frauds not a problem when your side practices it.

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Janice Kollarik

    The Catholics were simply trying to help the unfortunate and when they learned their efforts were being used for deceitfulness, they pulled out, as God would want them to do. The tragedy is in the Security of the United States for not investigating a person with so many devient terroristic connections and in the Press of the United States for suppressing it. That person may very soon be entitled to know this country's secret codes for Nuclear warfare. What a tragic error this has all been.

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. Krysee

    Another Catholic Organization Raping the Nation

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. rob

    just wait until the dallas cowboys show up to vote!

    oh, wait...

    think about that for a second: ACORN could register a million fictional voters, but it wouldn't make one iota of difference to the election because fictional people don't vote.

    in fact, anyone who gave money to ACORN has done so with the understanding that incentivising voter sign-ups provides an opportunity for theft. but it's theft from the donors themselves. yes, ACORN's bogus signups harm the obama campaign financially but don't help it electorally.

    but nevermind all that, ACORN's policy has always been to isolate and report suspect voter registrations.

    in brief? this is a non-story.

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Bob

    ACORN could have been a much bigger story if the McCain people used it right. This might be the story of the campaign which is Obama and his supporters made enough mistakes but the McCain crew made just as many and they try to make issues of things that were used as tactics and not a strategy. The whole issue of Obama not being trustworthy and saying anything could have been much more impactful if done over a period of time.

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. MWAnderson

    One poster commented that they didn't want their money supporting a partisan organization...well, if that's the case, then all fundamentalist christian organizations should start paying taxes immediately!

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. ken

    For anyone to think that fraudulent voter registrations generated through Acorn has any meaningful effect on the election turnout shows how uninformed most people are. Do your homework before you comment. Take a look at voter supression methods that is where the damage is actually done. Acorn in comparison is a non-issue.

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Connie from Indiana

    Today as an old white women who lived in a neighborhood of both whites and colored,having many friends who are black, seeing how people of color have been treated. MLK and JFK being my hero's for trying to make this a better and equal America. Today I am REALLY proud of this country and I am so very proud of Senator Obama for his achievements. I believe we should all come together as a nation behind our new President Obama.Now is not the time to divide our country , but to unite.
    GOD BLESS President Obama and Biden.
    Connie from"BLUE" Indiana

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Bob Boyce

    ACORN works to register voters. Isn't that what democracy is all about? The voters themselves decide who they're going to vote for. This isn't partisan, it's democracy. Again–ACORN does not tell people who to vote for, it just gets them registered. Are you afraid of that? And ACORN itself has reported the few instances of illegal behavior by their workers!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. hotmail

    Don 't worry about Acorn. After Obama is elected they'll have millions more and all the little investigations will quietly be called off. That's politics Chicago style.

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  25. DW

    ACORN must submit all filled in registration forms regardless of the presumed validity. They serve a purposed and are not all bad. The church is insincere in their action beacuse they all have and show some political preference. Lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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