October 5th, 2009
06:05 PM ET
5 years ago

Steele applauded ACORN leader in speech

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has been harshly critical of ACORN.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has been harshly critical of ACORN.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Like other GOP leaders, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele took a harsh tone toward ACORN last month after several of the group's employees were caught on tape offering financial advice to activists posing undercover as a pimp and prostitute.

On September 15, after the Senate voted to defund the community organizing group, Steele released a statement accusing ACORN of "nefarious activities," saying it uses "illegal means to achieve its ends." A few days later, on September 24, Steele called for congressional Democrats to investigate the "corrupt organization" and said damage control efforts by ACORN officials were "insulting."

But during a speaking appearance in the days between issuing those two statements, Steele had kind words for ACORN and its CEO, Bertha Lewis, who happened to be guiding that so-called damage control.

Appearing September 21 at Philander Smith College, a historically black college in Arkansas, the RNC chairman spoke diplomatically of the group and its history of organizing in low-income communities.

"The organization has a problem that it needs to deal with," Steele told the audience in remarks that were recorded and posted on YouTube over the weekend. "I will say that current head of the organization, she has done a phenomenal job of getting out in front of it. I applaud her. I take her at her word that she wants to make sure that the bad apples are thrown out."

Steele reminded the crowd that ACORN has "been around a long time."

"Now, I'm not a big fan of ACORN for a whole lot of reasons because of my own dealings with some of their folks over the years," he continued. "But I do respect that it has a history of working the community and helping the poor. That unfortunately has been tainted in such a way that it now casts doubt on the entire organization."

Steele said he hopes ACORN's problems "can get rectified" but said the group will have to live with "the stigma of the bad acts" that have grabbed headlines.

"So we'll see how this plays out," he said.

But three days later, in his statement calling on Democrats to investigate the group, Steele seemed to have made up his mind about the group's future. ACORN, he said, "should never be allowed near another voter registration effort again."

RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho denied any disconnect between Steele's statements and his remarks in Arkansas.

"Chairman Steele has been consistent in his profound disappointment with ACORN and believes that until ACORN eliminates their deep and undeniable corruption, the organization shouldn't be allowed near a ballot box or voter registration effort," she said in an e-mail to CNN.


Filed under: ACORN • Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Nick - Arlington, VA

    Ohh the hypocrisy...it smells so bad.

    October 5, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Mike

    Two words for Steele..........IDIOT and HYPOCRITE

    October 5, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Lila

    What's insulting is Michael Steele himself. The man is a complete tool...usually of the far right (ahem Limbaugh) persuasion.
    He is a moron, a hypocrite, and he completely lacks any real spine or integrity. What in the world has happend to the GOP???
    It's the most disgusting freakshow I've ever seen.

    Get it together Steele! The American people want and deserve a two-party system. As it sits now, you are sinking yourself and your party!!!

    October 5, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Charlie Rangel

    Is English still taught at journalism school?

    October 5, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Ori

    The GOP is totally bankrupt from top to bottom, lacking any constructive ideas whatsoever. All they have to offer is vicious political games and hate speech.

    October 5, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. kimberly

    like all republicans, the ting they oppose the loudest are the things they are fans of. They are the FIRST to denounce health care reform, yet are the ones getting moeny from the insurance companies. They are the ones against gay marriage, yet they are the ones having sex in bathrooms, they are the ones preaching family values, yet they are the ones cheating..YES Dems do it to, but at least they are not out there preaching against stuff and then doing it. They are not hypocryts like the loons on the right

    October 5, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Paul from Phoenix

    Wow, this is an amazing instance of CNN trying to make a story to make the GOP look bad. This is pretty pathetic.

    All Steele said is that he appreciated that the CEO is taking a lead approach to cleaning up her organization.

    October 5, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. johnnie w

    What do you know , CNN has figured out Steele is a MORON

    October 5, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. sandy

    Looks like Mr. Steele wants to have it both ways. What a piece of work this guy is. The Republicans did a bang up job when they put him in this position.

    October 5, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Cynthia

    This loser Steele will lean whatever way the wind blows. He's a typiclal republician, a liar who will say and do whatever to get what they want. Everytime he comes out of his hole he has nothing but negagtive things to say, especially about President Obama, what a piece of crap he is.

    October 5, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. yuri

    So somebody from the GOP rostrum has a soft corner for ACORN chief, but given the powerful polemics surroundin' it, its CEO should see to it that its ways are constantly monitored w/ CCTV.

    October 5, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Oh come on, give Steele a break! You caught him in one of those rare moments when he WASN'T being the RNC token negro. The truth looks funny on someone who rarely speaks it that's all.

    October 5, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Reformed Republican

    To late Steele.
    You've already tipped your hand that you're nothing more than a run-of-the-mill, closet GOP bigot towards ALL people of color.
    Nobody that's even casually watching politics in America is buyin' your party's version of a "Big Tent". They can see the sign at the door that says "White Southerners Only" alot better than you can...

    October 5, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Paul Ernest Show

    Nothing surprises me any longer with Republicans. They have clearly shown their dubiousness, right from Newt Gingrich calling on president Clinton to resign while having his own affairs. They really need help at this point. They have made politics look really like a very dirty game, indeed. Lies, distortions, deception, cheating, nothing seems to matter again to this party.

    October 5, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Emma

    This man has such a dearth of credibilty. It is unfortunate he is not astute enough to lead the Republican Party to a higher level. Is there a chance
    the GOP chose him to suggest they are not prejudicial of AA leaders, just Obama because he diluted their power.

    October 5, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. Stormer

    Mr. Steele has a long history of talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    Perhaps if he would actually lead the the GOP into a new era of helping, instead of hindering, people trying to get out of poverty, his words would be of value. But that idea's been a non-starter for the GOP since the Reagan years. They still think people are in poverty and out of work because they deserve to be.

    The GOP is a sad, sad comment on our once-great society.

    October 5, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Jane/Seattle

    What a Crock! Steele might try directing himself to all of the many improprieties within the Republican Party which is his JOB! This call by him woulld be in the best interests of the republicans if no one ever bothers to try to assist so-called "minority" voters with this nutty process we call elections. Long ago it became well-known just how little Republicans respect or even want voters at all. Could someone besides Greg Palast (gregpalast.com), Brad Freeman (bradblog.com), and others, Please direct yourselves to fixing the election Frauds of these same Republicaans Screaming so loudly over little ACORN! Many of us, who know, Are NOT fooled with all of this Blustering you all are doing now! Peace

    October 5, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Another example that there is no difference between the DNC and the RNC, both of these parties are owed by the same elitist mega wealthy, accepting money, gifts and favors from the lobbyists, PACs, Wall Street, Banks, global Corporations, auto industry and unions. The last thing on their mind is “We the People”.

    October 5, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Liberal4Obama

    LOL. Republicans should remind Michael Steele to stick to the script.

    ACORN BAD... Healthcare BAD... Stimulus money to create jobs BAD... Olympics in Rio GOOD

    October 5, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. Susan

    Steele, the epitome of Republican doublespeak.

    October 5, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. LOL!!!

    Spoken like the COMPLETE idiot Steele and his party is/are! Hypocritical and always sounding as if they contradict themselves! Him and his party is a complete insult to our country!

    October 5, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    Mushmouth strikes again...

    I suppose we should apply the same logic as the GOP is applying here to both parties and every other organizational structure we can find? Personally, I might not mind disallowing the GOP and Dems "near another ballot box or voter registration effort" based on the few bad apples we've found in both parties. I mean, isn't that the whole point the GOP is making here? Apparently, the presence of a couple idiots "proves" that the entire organizational structure is completely rotten to its core? Might be akin to using a 2×4 instead of a chest cracker for heart surgery, but that's the GOP nowadays...blunt instruments.

    October 5, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. JayG

    Get real, listen to how they phrase this article. Steele only said he applauds the head of ACORN for getting out in front of the problem with the organization, what is he supposed to say, he is angry that she would try and correct problems with ACORN?

    October 5, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Deb (long island)

    That is Steele angling for a microphone. He can't keep his trap shut. He may be African American but he is no Barack Obama.

    October 5, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Larry

    I guess it depends on which face he is wearing, the white face or the black face.

    October 5, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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