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. victim of republican greed

    First, Steele gets taken to the woodshed by republicans, because he wrote a patient's bill of rights that no republican would support. Now he is out catering to whatever group he is speaking to, knowing full well that at his next meeting, he will say the opposite.

    October 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. Conner

    What the????? Ugh and they wonder why no one has any faith in our leadership. What a crock!

    They are thieves taking money away from legitimate organizations who try to help good people not people trying to get one on the system!

    They should be shut down!!

    October 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Lynda

    Just tune into tomorrow he will be saying something totally different.......Republicans talk out of both sides of their mouths.......and most of the time they are telling lies........so I can't tell what he means by this comment.....he is such a puppet on a string.......

    October 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Matt

    Boss Limbaugh isn't going to like this...

    October 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Nancy

    Its BERTHA LEWIS. In your rush to make Steele and Republicans look bad, you obviously forgot how to use Google.

    October 5, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Grog in Ohio

    Michael Steele... going rogue.

    October 5, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Dave C - NJ

    GOP Talking Points for Q3 2009:

    1. Keep saying over and over that "The majority of Americans don't want the public option" (even though that is not true)

    2. Keep attacking ACORN over and over (even though no one really cares)

    October 5, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. David - FL

    So, they can keep "working the community and helping the poor", but they "are too corrupt to be allowed near a ballot box or voter registration effort"?

    Why is it that Mr. Steele believes that voter registration is somehow a more noble cause than helping the poor?

    ~David

    October 5, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Melissa

    One word... hypocrite.

    October 5, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Sheila C. Clarke

    Michael Steele, The biggest hyprocite ever. He said that
    Pres. Obama was leading the ACORN, now he is saying
    that ACORN is under great leadership.

    October 5, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. Sean the thinker

    Michael Steele, the consumate politician. He'll say whatever is neccessary in any manner neccessary to appease his targeted audience.... Michael Steele for U.S. Senate-Maryland 2012

    October 5, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Hypocrisy? It's called politics.
    It's like Barack Obama bashing Bush in the elections, then keeping several of his policies in place after he gains office.
    Like Obama appealling to the gay vote by saying he wants to get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Then when he gains office, he tells them he'll get around to it...at the right time.
    Politics. Like Nancy Pelosi crucifying Bush in her comments, then this year telling us watch the rhetoric, since it can lead to hatred.
    Politics.
    Like Obama supporters looking the other way at all the donations Obama got from the investment and banking industry.

    October 5, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. We Won Get Over It

    If ACORN has broken the law than they should be punished. Because a team egged on by Fox News sneaked into one of the offices and found something questionable that does not mean the whole organization is.

    Look at Dyncorp in Iraq. The outfit there bought children as sex slaves for their employees. Did they mean everybody that worked for Dyncorp was crooked and a sex offender. How come the bush administration did not investigate them. It was shown, and the papers were shown where this happened.

    I think all the republicans want is to get in power so they can go back to raiding the treasury of this country and pass laws to benefit big business so they can rake in more money from them. They don't care about America and the American people they have dollar signs in their eyes. Kick em out don't let anymore in.

    October 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. taylor68

    Not surprising... he plays to the crowd he's facing at the moment.... like Nick says, "Ohh the hypocrisy... it smells so bad."

    October 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Gert

    Yes the hypocrisy does smell so bad – from the leaders all the leader, rush, beck, etal

    October 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. Churchill

    What an opportunist. The RNC has becaome a party of anything goes.
    I believe there are bad apples within ACORN just like many large organizations. Are there good people too? YES.
    Do we disband the police force or the Army just because there a some bad eggs? Ofcourse NOT.

    October 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Nathan Prophet, Raleigh, NC

    Michael Steele is a bad apple that needs to be thrown out. Can't Republicans do better than this guy?

    October 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Independent in NYC

    Could this be pay back because the congressional GOP told Steele to stop making policy and stick to fund rasing???????

    October 5, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Cruzan Obama Mama

    How does he look at himself in the mirror? How 2 faced can you be?

    Neither the RNC or America takes him seriously. He is just a distraction for either party. What an idiot!!!!!

    October 5, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. paul

    d'oh token did it again

    October 5, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. babs

    Do these people have a drinking problem? I just don't understand...

    October 5, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Doc

    Talking about wishy-washy, flip-flopping politicians. We should get rid of both parties and start over.

    October 5, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. jay

    repubs wont like this

    October 5, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. nobama

    Got to stick up for the brothers and sisters.

    October 5, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. irene johnson

    Unbelievable comment by Mr. Steele in regards to CEO Acorn.
    Twenty states investigating their activities – As a taxpaper we
    are all sick of this and must demand an end to this. Acorn is
    already diverting monies to other hidden subdivisions of Acorn.
    This women is not to be praised, but should be ashamed and
    out of work and possible jail time.

    October 5, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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