September 17th, 2009
04:59 PM ET
9 years ago

House passes amendment to cut government funding for ACORN

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House of Representatives on Thursday approved an amendment that calls for halting government funding to the community organizing group ACORN.

The measure, added to a larger bill on reforming student loans that won House approval, follows a provision passed earlier in the week by the Senate that would halt Housing and Urban Development grants to ACORN.

Both measures would have to have their differences reconciled in Congress to take effect. In addition, ACORN's chief executive officer says the group gets most of its money from members and other supporters, and its operations would continue even if it is cut off from government grants.

However, approval of the House and Senate measures demonstrated the political fallout against ACORN following recent reports of videos that appeared to show the agency's employees condoning illegal actions.

The videos were secretly taped by two individuals posing as a prostitute and a pimp. They show ACORN employees in four of the agency's offices suggesting or condoning a series of illicit actions as the couple sought advice on setting up a brothel with underage women from El Salvador.

On Wednesday, ACORN' CEO Bertha Lewis announced administrative steps to respond to the videos.

"We have all been deeply disturbed by what we've seen in some of these videos," Lewis said. "I must say on behalf of ACORN's board and our Advisory Council that we will go to whatever lengths necessary to re-establish the public trust."

The steps announced include an immediate halt in hiring for all ACORN offices, an immediate training program for all front-line staff, and selection of an independent auditor by the end of this week.

Also Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller signaled a potential federal investigation of the organization.

In response to a description of the highly publicized videotapes by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Mueller told a congressional hearing that he had just learned of the matter.

"Clearly, given what you have said, it's something in consultation with the Department of Justice that we would look at," Mueller said.

At least 11 states already have been investigating ACORN - an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - for alleged voter registration fraud stemming from the general election in 2008.

The videos by filmmaker James O'Keefe and his colleague Hannah Giles have caused ACORN to fire four employees shown on the tapes.

The videos were shot in ACORN offices in New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington; and San Bernardino, California. ACORN claims the film team also attempted but failed to "trick" employees in several other cities to make incriminating statements.

On it's Web site, ACORN, which was founded in 1970, describes itself as "the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities."

–CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Terry Frieden contributed to this story.

Filed under: ACORN • Congress • FBI
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Darth Vadik, CA

    Oh don't worry Republicans , George Soros will finance them now, and ACORN will still be able to come inside your homes, take your guns, and make you a communist.

    September 17, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    So so sad. The democrats have to sacrifice their own flagship organization in order to save themselves. 😦

    Call the democrats and ACORN if you want to get registered to vote, if you need government housing, or if you just want a really REALLY good massage......if you know what I mean. 😉

    September 17, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. Gary's Opinion

    Great! lets get our tax dollars away from these ACORN people. Shut that organization down.

    September 17, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. mike

    APPEARED to show employees condoning illegal actions? Are you kidding me? I know you are innocent until proven guilty, but please! These clowns should be investigated immediately.

    September 17, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. TangledThorns

    Cutting off funding is not enough. The Justice Department must investigate ACORN now!!

    September 17, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. hypocrites

    what about the govt funding for Iraq war that caused the unnecessary deaths of many? Where were all of the yay voters against govt spending then. Interesting how they are so quick to cut funding for domestic programs that attempts to help people. I don't agree with the actions of Acorn, but I'm certain that most of their causes were good ones. Instead of cutting funds, why not reform, or implement regulations?

    September 17, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Nini

    Thanks to FOX News and the coverage if it were up to CNN we would never know.

    How sad for CNN and their selective reporting.

    September 17, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Bob in Pa

    Way too much surrounding Acorn since the start of the 2008 election.

    Thank you Congress for finally starting to act on this group. I was almost at the point of throwing a brick through my TV.

    September 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Richard-Arkansas

    Hurray, the Republicans killed support for a community action organization based on a video,. When are they going to go after Halliburton, Wackenhut, and the other corporations that have cheated the US people, damaged the reputation of the US overseas, and bribed (sorry, donated to) our Senators and Represenatives? There is some real money!

    When are they going to look into the Republican caging in Florida where large groups of minority-district voters were disinfrancised? The Rove staffer who reportedly led this effort is now thinking about running for the Senate or House from Arkansas since he knows so much about the state, after all, Rove got him installed as the state's Federal Prosecutor after firing the previous one to create an opening.

    September 17, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. S

    Wow, CNN finally has a story about ACORN fraud. The Senate pulled funding three days ago, but you wouldn't know that if CNN was your only news source. Great reporting (or censure) CNN, keep it up and find yourself falling further by the wayside. Go back to your roots and become the reporting mavericks you were back in the 80's. Now, you have simply become President Obama's lap dogs.

    September 17, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Bob in Pa

    It should be noted that the Student Loan bill is just as contriversial as Acorn. It is removing banks out of the equation making the Government the sole lender. My guess is this will never pass the Senate and Acorn will still get the funds. Leave it to Congress to be so backhanded in their dealings.

    September 17, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. centerleft

    Let's see if I get this right. Blackwater kills innocent people, rude behavior protecting the American embassy, but get a multi- million dollar contracts. Halliburton shoddy work kills American soliders, but get multi- millions dollar contracts. Acorn is a hit job by Foxs News and Glen Beck that will be proven false.

    September 17, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. ib

    About stinking time; why have they waited so long to do something that should have been done a long time ago????

    September 17, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    That's community organizers for you. I wasn't aware that 'social justice' now included child prostitution rings. Amazing that 7 Democratic Senators actually voted to keep them funded, including "Buy that seat" Burris.

    September 17, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Carlos

    They are a corrupt organization from top to bottom, and have been for a long time, from tax evasion, to voter fraud, they should all be prosecuted including their former community organizer and lawyer.

    September 17, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. JV

    Isn't there a big Acorn story today? I guess I need to go elsewhere to get all of the news.

    September 17, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. David from WI

    When is Mr Holder going to show some courage and INVESTIGATE ACORN under RICO laws. When is the IRS going to AUDIT ACORN?

    They only hurt the ones they claim they help if corrupt.

    Do those defenders of ACORN only care about ACORNs reputation or those they SAY they help?

    Investigate them NOW. Mr Holder that will take courage!

    September 17, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  18. DAVE

    i will be amazed by the posts of the liberals on this site...... some may say that these videos are gotcha journalism but I see no difference in this as to the famed NBC show "HOW TO CATCH A PREDATOR"..... Same principle just the ACORN people are under the illusion that since there biggest supporter is the President of the USA they can get away with anything they want..... Can't wait until the books have to be opened and lots of high ranking democratic officials are exposed.... starting with the ones who voted against de-funding of these crooks in the house and the senate...

    September 17, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  19. Robin

    There are now 5 tapes.

    The undercover reporters were given the same advice every time. PLUS, the Acorn worker in San Diego gave advice on how to smuggle in the underage girls into the US illegally.

    5 different cites in 5 different states. Same results. It really does make you wonder.

    September 17, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    I suppose in the past this organization had some redeeming qualities, but since the campaign for the last election began, I've seen nothing but an out of control branch of only one party involved in questionable activities.

    September 17, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. vic nashville , Tn

    Cutting found for ACORN is Cutting news For FOX thank you

    September 17, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. S Callahan

    Now the test of the conscience of America...there are lots of innocent people that will affected by the corrupt acts of a few...people who depend on the source of funding for housing, school, survival....Since they claim they are funded by private sources more than government then it would be wise for those, and more , resources to step up to the plate, change their Board of Directors, get new, honest, leadership and philap their organizatoin for the sake of the innocent victims in this.

    September 17, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Melissa

    Very good. Now the President needs to speak out in support of cutting off all funding to this group, and in support of disbanding it.

    September 17, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. About time..

    Glad to see most of Congress (minus the 75 who voted against it) have some sense to force this organization to get its act together. We can all deny it but in our hearts we know they were only allowed to get away with what the have because of race!

    September 17, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. T

    Ok, so congress has done ONE good thing for the country this year by cutting funding to that loose cannon of a group!

    September 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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