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. nitro

    You would have plenty of money if you stop covering up the Priest having sex with little boys.

    November 4, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. than

    Here's how voter registration drives work. Organizations obtain names and addresses of new voters often paying workers for the number of new registrations they produce. The organizations are required by law to then turn over ALL registration forms to the state regardless of their accuracy. The reason they have to turn in ALL forms is so that they can't choose to exclude people they don't think share their views (e.g. if a Democratic group has a number of registrations where the persons identified themselves as Republicans they can't throw them out and vice-versa.) It is the responsibility of the state to verify the accuracy and that's when names like Mickey Mouse get pulled out of the pile. Handing in a form in Nevada with Tony Romo on it isn't Voter Fraud unless and until someone shows up and actually attempts to vote under that name. If anything ACORN got ripped off by paying workers for bogus names.

    November 4, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. independent for Obama

    The Catholic Church can't afford to help ACORN anymore. They have to payout settlements to people who have been molested by priest. And yes I am Catholic.

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

    Ah ACORN, the incredibly shrinking story, the incredible shrinking controversy. When will the conservatives stop thugging people away from the polls? Only when they can convince the rest of us there's a problem with "voter fraud." What do they do when there's no problem? Easy! Make one up!

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

    Ben, 6 out of those 8 years our economy grew steadily. Don't believe brainwashing media, check the statistics. Our unemployemnt rate was 4.5 – 5%, we grew @ the rate of 3% per year... And the last two comparatively bad years somehow coinsided with Democrats-ran Congress. Accident? How about 9% job approval – that's unheard of. Compare this with Palin's numbers and don't blame Bush. Soon you'll see "redistribution of wealth", taxes rising for everybody, money leaving the country, loss of jobs, huge unemployment rates – all that Canada and Western Europe have already for years. All their economic growth happens when our economy is OK. When we turn from the nation of entrepreneurs to the nation of 9 to 5 employees – as Europe did – we will stop existing as the superpower.

    November 4, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Schneider (I) - CA

    The ignorance of some of these comments is blinding! First off, registration fraud was committed AGAINST ACORN, not by them! Secondly, it was ACORN themselves that noted the fraudulent registrations. Thirdly, ACORN does not endorse any political candidates. They may work in lower-income, urban settings which tend to vote a particular way, but the organization as a whole is bi-partisan which is why the Church has been allowed to donate for over a decade. As for the generally loony comments, this country will not turn socialist. Stop listening to Hannity and Limbaugh. Use your brain. Taxes for 95% of WORKING Americans will go DOWN under Obama. And for the rest, their tax rate will just revert back to the level pre-Bush. if you remember that was Clinton. And if I recall correctly, those making $250,000 or more, did just fine under the GOP's public enemy #1. Obama is a capitalist. He supports big businesses, the coal industry, small businesses, the banking industry etc. Most progressives find him to be too corporatist! So before you pin every single ailment on him, give him an honest chance. You may have to ween yourself off of Fox News for a week or so, but you just might find a whole new world out there.

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Melodie

    I'm not Catholic, but I've donated to several of Catholic Charities' relief projects because they do a good job. You can't downplay the importance of getting disenfranchised people involved in the Democratic process. ACORN, however, didn't police itself properly and Catholic Charities is right to pull back. Catholic Charities' donors come from varying political beliefs and Catholic Charities needs to be fiscally responsible on their behalf. Also, to retain their tax-exempt status, churches aren't supposed to participate in the political process (although we all know it's done). I hope that if ACORN proves that the infractions were isolated incidents, and gets a plan in place to ensure that "Mickey Mouse" and other famous characters never again get registered as voters, the nonprofit might qualify for the support of Catholic Charities down the road.

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Sue in MI

    I fail to see how this organization has enabled anyone to vote more than once. With ID required, and voter roles checked and rechecked, no one can walk into a polling place not their own and vote. Mickey Mouse did not vote today in Florida. I'm sorry Republicans are po'd that they are losing, but McCain and Palin did it to you when they decided to run a negative, evil campaign that turned people off. You may not like Obama, but he has shown himself to be a man who can control his temper, get his points across without bashing the other guy, and who sounds Presidential instead of like the schoolyard bullies shaking his and her fists at the little kids.

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. Missouri in Philly

    Ben, Are you kidding, 8 years of bad economy? where have you been? The economy has been rocking since recovering from 911... High gas prices and lack of oversight on Fannie and Freddy have put the skids on this economy only recently (and both the failure to drill domestically and failure of key Dem legislators to heed the warning signs about risky lending are to blame). If you want change, the Dem house and Senate is already giving it to you... and when they repeal your tax cuts, everyone will stop spending and the economy will really shut down.

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. KJL

    One candidate? John McCain was also involved with ACORN, when he thought it was to his advantage.

    November 4, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. maurice

    We Are All Real Americans: do you live by a river in egypt called denile? i have seen 2 videos of acorn people in front of crowds saying lets get obama elected.

    November 4, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Cam

    This is a call for fair and complete journalism. I mean, many people on here, due to the negligence and bias of Drew Griffin and Lou Dobbs, do not understand the difference between voter REGISTRATION fraud and voter fraud......

    Registration fraud, which is what ACORN is accused of, very rarely (like 20 reported cases EVER) results in election fraud. this is a scare tactic from Republicans, pure and simple.

    Again, fire Drew Griffin and let him go over to Fox News where he belongs......send Dobbs with him......

    November 4, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. J. S.

    With all the voter fraud going on–we probably will never know who REALLY won the election-

    November 4, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. Richard

    Republicans ran the economy into the ground. Senator Obama's advisors were top Fannnie Mae/ Fredie Mac executives (and also Democrats).
    Banks were forced by federal regulatons to make risky loans to to pople who could not afford them–thanks to Jimmy Carter and strengthened legislation pushed though by President Clinton.

    Tax Breaks for the rich–paying out a lower percentage brought in the highest revenue in history in dollars. When it is repealed, expect companies paying higher taxes will lay off workers.

    In an interview Senator Obama ackowledge that higher taxes will bring in less dollars but he thought it fairer. What it eans is that the people creating jobs in the country pay more while there is less money in the national coffers to pay for government programs.

    Obama warn yesterday that his own energy plans will skyrocket electricity bills (because he opposes coal industry). He's telling us how he will trash America but people still trust him because of his charisma.

    November 4, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Iowa Conservative

    Voter Fraud is not really that bad when you take into consideration how much the Electoral College distorts the Popular Vote anyways. I am not saying that they didn't do anything wrong by any means. But, I really think that if we are going to change things.... we should change the system also.

    Just a thought...

    November 4, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. nitro

    You idiots have lied ,stolen and cheated for so long just the thought that it might be happening to you make you sick to your stomach. Well live with it because thats what poor people in this country has had to live with for hundreds of years. Take this time to take a look at yourselves and figure out what it is that you can do to bring this country together. 1country 1 Love

    November 4, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Common Sense in Fresno

    As stated before, they have to turn in every application received.

    This is a non-story, especially in the national scheme of things.

    It is refreshing that the Obama campaign has been so lacking in mistakes that this is getting played up.

    November 4, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Perusing-Through


    When the dust clears, evidence will come to light that proves any unintentional mishaps by Acorn is no greater in percentages than any previous presidential election year. Acorn just got caught up in the GOP drive-by 'character shootings'. John McNasty needed another way to attack Senator Obama's character so he concocted "Acorn-Voter-Fraud" stew and tried to hit Obama with it. Unfortunately Acorn was in the middle of the attack and was caught completely off guard and not ready to defend itself.

    November 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Puzzled

    Thank God my church has divorced themselves from these thugs.

    November 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. Granny

    David Lopez, get your head out of the sand. The Democratic party under Bill Clinton were the ones that are at fault for the financial crisis. They are the ones that called for fannie mae and freddie mac to reduce the criteria for low income families to make it easier for them to obtain loans. That had nothing to do with Bush. Also, don't forget that the president is not the only one responsible for the recession in our economy. We have had a Democratic congress for the last few years, and they too have to be held accountable. Not a Democrat, but a Republican (John McCain), proposed legislation in 2005 for more oversight into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because he recognized the danger to our economy. The Democrats, including Obama, profited substantially from these two financial giants and they didn't do anything to curtail them.

    November 4, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. jay

    Drew maybe if you approached them as a nuetral journalist rather than an opinionated populist, you would not have these problems investigating this organization. just a thought.

    November 4, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Nancy

    Paul, I believe what you mean is martial law. I am concerned that Obama wants to start a special military. hmmmm.. reminds me of something like the KGB. Does anyone have info on that?

    November 4, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. Agnes Fleming

    By the way, Acorn has nothing to do with voting, only helping to register those who are disinclined. It is not about voter fraud, which I am sure we will see plenty of before this night is over, lest we forget Florida in 2008, and that had nothing to do with Acorn. That had to do with George Bush stealing the election along with his brother, Jeb, who was Governor of Florida at the time and Catherine Harris, the real frauds. I wonder what could possibly happen tonight, but nothing like distracting us with Acord?

    November 4, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. True Blue Ohio

    ACORN functioned in the same capacity in the 2004 election. They had problems back then. In my opinion, they should not have been allowed to operate given their past history. However, their actions have nothing to do with Barack. They are a third party, the only people responsible for ACORN, is their administration. And the names of those individuals should be released as they were the ones who neglected to provide oversight for their employees. No one else should be held responsible for their incompetence but them.

    November 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. John

    Ellen in Ohio...I agree, and don't forget to throw in our public universities and schools as well. It is no wonder our youth only vote one is all they are force fed.

    November 4, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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