March 22nd, 2010
08:37 PM ET
5 years ago

ACORN community organizing group to close

ALT TEXT

ACORN's board has approved the steps required "to responsibly manage the process of bringing its operations to a close over the coming months," the group said in a statement Monday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

(CNN) - The community organizing group ACORN announced Monday it is closing its operations amid falling revenues.

The announcement came a day after the board of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now met and approved the steps required "to responsibly manage the process of bringing its operations to a close over the coming months," an ACORN statement read.

The group's remaining state affiliates and field offices will close by April 1 and a plan will be developed to pay its debts, the statement said.

"ACORN's members have a great deal to be proud of - from promoting homeownership to helping rebuild New Orleans, from raising wages to winning safer streets, from training community leaders to promoting voter participation - ACORN members have worked hard to create stronger to communities, a more inclusive democracy, and a more just nation," it said.

The 40-year-old liberal group was crippled by scandal six months ago when a pair of conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute secretly videotaped two ACORN employees appearing to give them advice about setting up a prostitution ring and evading the IRS.

The video led to the employees being fired.

Afterward, Congress halted Housing and Urban Development grants to ACORN.

In a news release issued Saturday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said the group had faced "a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded, right-wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era. Our effective work empowering African-American and low-income voters made us a target. The videos were a manufactured, sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress.

"For ACORN as a national organization, our vindication on the facts doesn't necessarily pay the bills. I know that ACORN's dedicated community members will continue to speak out for justice and organize in their
communities."

ACORN's announcement was welcomed by Matthew Vadum, senior editor of the Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank based in Washington. "I won't be shedding any tears," said Vadum, who said he has been studying the organization for years and written extensively on the organization. "ACORN is a thoroughly corrupt organization that abuses taxpayer dollars and breaks the law at every opportunity. To suggest that it was set up is laughable."

He added in a telephone interview with CNN, "For ACORN to claim that it's a victim of McCarthyism, as I've seen CEO Bertha Lewis do repeatedly, doesn't even pass the laugh test. It can't be taken seriously."

On March 1, prosecutors cleared the group of criminal wrongdoing related to the videos. And on March 10, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon declared unconstitutional the law blacklisting ACORN and allied organizations from receiving federal funds, according to ACORN.

In 2008, Republican groups seized on allegations of voter registration fraud by the group in Florida and several other states, claiming its workers were trying to push the election in Barack Obama's favor.

Founded in 1970, ACORN called itself "the nation's largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people." The group said it had more than 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities.

Besides voter registration, the group focused on issues such as predatory lending, the minimum wage and funding for public schools, according to its Web site. It also provided free tax-return preparation for low-income people and screening for state and federal benefit programs.

Updated 8:37 p.m.


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soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Michael

    This is a sad day in America.

    Is it just me or does anyone else see a disturbing trend coming from the right wing with them silencing anyone who opposes them and their agenda? If this keeps up there will be only one voice out there; that of the extreme right.

    Wake up people and don't be so ready to believe what you hear! We are blessed to have search engines out there to research the facts in seconds. The one shouting the loudest isn't always the one telling you the truth!

    March 22, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. jojomcgee

    Well you bought it CNN. They are only reforming under another name. Is CNN intentionally twisting this story to imply that ACORN is going away ? Aooears to be.

    March 22, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  3. twist

    I see this as a herald of things to come. Let's review what happened with ACORN shall we?
    1. It gets blacklisted by one political group because it helps citizens to actually vote
    2. After continued general attempts to smear ACORNs efforts, an "independent" journalist secretly films footage on their premises and heavily edits it to implicate two low level employees in incorrectly handling a case (Not even in doing anything illegal!)
    3. The media proceeds to publish obviously faulty facts all over the country condemning ACORN
    4. The Republicans now have enough civil opinion clout to get ACORN officially government blacklisted – which by the way we later find out was completely illegal
    5. Once ACORN is forced to shut down (and the court has vindicated them in showing no fault on the part of ACORN) all of the media outlets now guilty remember that they let obvious lies be published for over a year because it made a good story.

    End result = American people loose

    March 22, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. mary

    No, the targeting of ACORN had nothing to do with low income and African Americans. It had everything to do with the group being unscrupulous. At the end of the day, if you give really bad advice like they did, then they should not be operating.

    March 22, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. attaboys

    acorn is a completely corrupt and a joke... When will you folks wake up!

    March 22, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. Johnnie T Martin

    You can add CNN to the list of right-wing groups that helped to make this happen. I wrote and called daily to ask you where did you get your information and was any of it verified. You did respond by allowing Drew Griffin to come on night after night with one lie after another.
    This group has been investigated up one side and down the other and they have been found guilty of nothing. You took the works and words of Fox News as gospel and ran with it.
    You should be ashamed of what you have become. Another mouthpiece for the right wing , racist Republican party and Fox News,

    March 22, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. Common Sense Guy

    This will help with the deficit

    March 22, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    How sad. Not

    March 22, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. alaskadi

    They are shutting down just to rise again under a new name. They will rear their ugly heads to help the left wing in an illegal manner when they feel that their candidates can't win honestly, ie. Obama.

    March 22, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  10. Guest

    Good news

    March 22, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    Buh bye maggot farm

    March 22, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  12. Denna

    Score one for Rush and the others. I guess America will be safer without this organization. LOL I think we're in more danger with that terrorist group the GOP on the loose. What was it that Orange Crush Boner said? Armageddon. Stay classy GOP, stay classy.

    March 22, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  13. Kendra

    An acorn is a seed. The organization may have fallen to the ground, but in time , there will grown a giant oak tree of a movement and no slander by the right wing or their friends who never saw the inside of a journalism class in the Media is going to bring it down.

    March 22, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  14. Bubble of Sanity

    This is not unlike the feeling I would get reading that the Ku Klux Klan had gone broke and was shutting down.

    March 22, 2010 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. Russ H

    Too bad Obama could not go down with it.

    March 22, 2010 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  16. T'SAH from Virginia

    When President Obama wins in 2012 – they won't be able to blame ACORN!!

    March 22, 2010 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. John

    A garbage organization headed for the trash pile. What a great day

    March 22, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. WeThePeopleofVirginia

    Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

    There was never a more appropriate time for this saying.

    March 22, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  19. CEE

    If it wasn't for health reform right wing nuts would be dancing in the streets.

    March 22, 2010 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  20. Tom

    What a load of you-know-what. By "closing" they can shed their bad name, probably avoid a lot of honest debts, and simply re-appear under a new name with the same old leadership.

    March 22, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  21. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    CNN, your sloppy reporting had a hand in propagating the FOX-led assault on ACORN. By not challenging the veracity of the claims made by O'Keefe & Co., and by allowing a clearly fanatical and unhinged side to blatantly LIE on your network you just propagated the hate that led to this. And thanks to you, millions of the poorest Americans have a little less help today.

    Your spinelessness disgusts me, and that's why CNN joins FOX News as the only channels I have blocked.

    March 22, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    This is a travesty. The Republicans went on attack mode and misrepresented what this organization did, and the media helped them. Why? There was no investigative journalism. The right wing talking points were passed around and taken at face value. This is what media has become? What is going to happen to the people Acorn actually helped? They're just out of luck, right? We should be ashamed of ourselves.

    March 22, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  23. JR

    Please--Acorn has over 350 affiliates. This is just smoke and mirrors. The same corrupt leadership is going to carry on the same old fraud, abuse and theft at the hundreds of other branches of the Acorn network.

    March 22, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  24. Keith in Austin

    Never forget that ACORN spawned Comrade Barry!

    March 22, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  25. JES

    More crooks out of business I hope.

    March 22, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
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