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. v

    Obama is "lesser of two evils"? Poor, naive American-born voters... Go to your neighbors born in the Soviet bloc and find out why they ran away from obamas and such... Try to understandn why, for instance, 80% of the American-Russian community will vote for McCain... We KNOW what socialists REALLY do to freedoms, to economy, to everything... You don't like an executive with 80% job approval in her State? You think Obama will do good in world politics? He is going to "negotiate" with Ahmadinejad... Well, if Munich 1938 taught people anything – it was that you don't sit down to negotiate with a cannibal unless you have a gun pointed at him and negotiations are about his surrender... But Obama, aparently, does not know this... Do you really think he would be able to look Putin in the eyes without blinking and tell him, "Screw you, we will do what is the best for America. And if we need to defend our friends – we will defend them!" John McCain, a war hero, would say that. Obama – a former law instructor – will smile and talk. Smile and talk is all he can do. How does this county elect an unproven Senator who just 4 years ago was absolutely unknown outside Chicago is beyond me... Is it some kind of media brainwashing or a death wish? How can anyone think that a person who for 20 years listened to the racist preacher and only a few months ago under pressure of his election consultants tore his ties with that preacher – how can anyone think that that person will "unite" America??? This is craziness...

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. secularjihad

    Acorn is a red herring. The real voter fraud is what we're seeing in all the battleground states right now: voter rolls purged, absentee ballots not set, poll workers giving incorrect info about ID requirements, machines flipping votes, voter intimidation. ACORN is the distraction to cover the real theft of yet another election.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Selling jets on ebay for America

    They tried to register members of the Cowboys in Vegas?!?!?!
    When on earth will the list of liberal dirty tricks run out of room for yet one more bit of voter fraud?

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Linda

    Go after all the crooks involved with Acorn. They need to spend several years in jail.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. Julio Frankio

    Guess, what idiots, it's a few ACORN employees that have registered false voters. The organization fires and prosecutes anyone they find to have registered a fake name.

    Regardless, false voter registration doesn't affect the actual outcome of the election. If someone registered Micky Mouse to vote, no Mickey Mouse will actually show up to the polls to vote. Therefore the election isn't hindered in any way.

    I can't wait for a Democratic presidency. The Republican party has done enough damage in this country.

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  6. R U kidding me?

    Everything has been crooked about this election, ACORN, citizenship, big campaign money. That's how they get in! But be happy, Obama has promised everyone everything. Can't wait to start living on the government, like so many that are voting for him. I'll be waiting for my change.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. WarrenB

    ACORN registers new voters. How is that partisan? ACORN sends some fraudulent names, which are caught. No fraudulent votes are cast. The Republican party uses the machinery of voting to disenfranchise large numbers of voters who may not vote Republican. This fraudulently steals two elections for them. Now, think about it - which one is really a problem?

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Philadelphian trapped in Texas

    I've seen no evidence in any of this that ACORN staff were complicit in the illegal activities. I think it was bad policy to be paying needy people a set amount per new registrant – it's an inevitable temptation to make up names and signatures. The organization deserves to be punished.

    But ACORN has also done a lot of good over the years, having nothing whatsoever to do with the political realm, and I think it's poor policy on the part of the organizations who have historically fuinded them to now cut them off. I can certainly seeing reducing contributions by 10% or even more as a stern admonition, but the poor people of this country need ACORN in the current economy more than ever.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  9. Irene, TX

    For God sake, we know that Catholic is against Obama because his standing on abortion, that's the only priority Catholic cares about. And dumb enough, Catholic thinks ACORN is supporting Obama. BTW, a lot of priest abused victims out there need your help. I'm proud no longer a Catholic!

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. Lewis

    I'd love to see some actual proof that ACORN, as an organization, has done something wrong?

    How come you've never interviewed ACORN live on TV? Odd, given the amount of air time CNN has devoted to ACORN that this organization hasn't had its chance to tell its side of the story.

    Seems biased journalism to me.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. NO to IRAQ OSAMA

    Ok... so you want to brush over Acorn...What about Ayers?...What about Osama's aunt??? What about his afiliation with Rev Wrong???

    Wake up. NO to IRAQ OSAMA. Only the shallow, easily decieved will be bough by the terrorist!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. William

    ACORN did nothing wrong. The voters they registered that they felt were false, ACORN marked them as suspicious. The law still requires that those be sent to the state, which ACORN did. They is nothing more than a smear campaign by McCain. It is a shame that it is the poor who will pay for McCain's lies.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. HouseDiva

    WOW...what a surprise!


    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Non-emotionial thinking

    Platitudes to john – well said. To Concerned CT voter – know your history before you comment – the GOP or Republicans under Lincoln did free and watch out for the little Guy – even fought a war for it...

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Jason

    Too funny. We're seeing the same Republican supression machine in all it's glory in the same critical battleground states and this is waht we get from CNN. There is attempt to steal another election, let's focus our attention there for once CNN! Where is the coverage and outrage over what's taking place once again, closed polls, robo calls announcing different voting dates and locations, emails and texts. What are we a 3rd world country. Do not allowe this to happen again! It's outrageous!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. J Carter II

    I was surprised to see someone renouncing their faith because the Catholic Church refused to fund a corrupt organization. But then again, renunciation of one's Religion will be expected under the Obama's Liberal Cult of Personality. After all, Barry was claimed to be a Maoist.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. MBB, Pittsburgh

    Obama is going to win! Get over it. If you were so concerned maybe you should have prayed for your candidate and if you did consider the posibility that god dosn't support McCain.

    November 4, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. John M.

    Looming socialism? Only Mosques will be tax exempt? Wow. Really? You people are so full of hate that you are making no sense, and just flailing like the intolerant, ignorant reactionaries you are. I cannot wait for Obama to be president and put an end to 8 years of your type of small, pathetic mindset ruling our country and bullying the world. Just like Islamic fundamentalists, you should really crawl back into your caves and mind your business while adults work on the tough decisions.

    November 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. helen

    For all those that wonder what the big deal is, it's that there should be no voter registration fraud. If there is, each of the fraudulent votes negate the votes of law abiding citizens.
    Additionally, ACORN receiving public aid is dependent upon it being an unbiased organization. If you can readily find videos on the web of ACORN head honchos saying, "let's make sure Obama is elected" then it is no longer an unbiased organization, and the same would be true for if they were solely trying to get a Republican elected.
    We should be trying for zero voter fraud tolerance, and that means, gasp, not getting upset when the polling places expect you to have an ID with you.

    November 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. Spread the wealth

    The Dem's will have gained all the power with the president and a majority in both the house and senate. Now we are on the verge of the great new world order. Tax the rich and give to the poor. From everyone according to their ability given to everyone according to their need. I can't wait to see those fat rich suckers shriek when we jack their 401k and other benefits with a 35%+ tax. The great socialist revolution has begun! Obama will change the corruption inherent in the system and allow those who have nothing to take their fair share. He will force the rich to work for the benefit of the poor. Sacrifice is the call…whether you like it or not. The Catholic Church is running in fear. They know. Time for them and their great wealth to share the burden.
    I'm glad ACORN milked them for cash and now it will be their undoing.

    November 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. jake

    The diversity of all the responses illustrates that more than half of the responders are uneducated and do not know who or what to blame or what the problem is. One of them thinks martial law is Marshall law, GO FIGURE.

    November 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. Carlo

    I'm cathloic and pro-obama, but if this group really is found to be that corrupt then I feel it's appropriate for the church to cut off funding. The church it's self simply can not involve it's self with any organization that would engage in corrupt tactics to the end of trying to some how rig an election. Now, putting things into perspective:

    1). illegal registrations may or may not be the fault of ACORN as an orginization. It's well known that many individual employee's took it upon them selves to cheat in order to ensure either continued employment or to get more money from the orginization.

    2). illlegal registrations are a far cry from rigging an election or allowing illegal votes to be cast. Mickey Mouse won't be allowed to vote any where, and I doubt the Dallas Cowboys would be allowed to vote in nevada.

    Now addressing certain specific comments.

    Anonymous 4:53pm – Our nation already has gone socialist, you can thank George W Bush for that, as well as both John McCain and Barack Obama for supporting the persidents initative to buy stakes into banks nation wide

    The Prophete 4:55 – It's impossible to say which candidate is winning or losing at this point, but as of this AM Obama was up by 7pts.

    November 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. wondering

    I am wondering...if people believe the GOP has "run our economy into the dirt" – have they really considered Obama's theory of wealth redistribution? Who do they think the wealth will come from and who will it go to???
    Please don't tell me it will only be from those with "lots of money". It will be from all of us – but, then, perhaps many of you are the ones who feel you deserve money someone else has earned.
    What is next...reparations?

    November 4, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. lori from pa

    Good ! I think that's good judgment. Acorn definetely needs to be investigated.

    November 4, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. Ben

    Does anyone realize that the fake registrations wouldn't have DONE anything...that is, unless you think the Dallas Cowboys were going to go vote in Nevada.

    It was lazy employees trying to meet a quota. ACORN is not a sinister, fradulent organization tied to a single candidate. It is an organization that had poor employees.

    November 4, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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