Recent reports of criminal activity in the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are serious and should be of interest to every American citizen, their congressional representatives and the media. The series of undercover videos made in several ACORN offices across the country by James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, while certainly the most sensational evidence of ACORN wrong doing, are far from the first.
Bloggers like Michelle Malkin and Jim Hoft have been tracking instances of ACORN problems for years, many related to voter registration fraud. In Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin and elsewhere tens of thousands of bad voter applications were submitted by ACORN in the last election – “tying up election officials and jeopardizing the voting rights of untold victims whose identities may have been stolen.”
Other illegal activity has been perpetrated and prosecuted as well. No matter how many instances of submitting bogus voter registration forms and other improper or illegal activity have been shown, the mainstream media have been remarkably uninterested. Not only had the organization continued to receive millions in public funding, but was eligible to receive billions of stimulus money.
The undercover video investigation by O’Keefe and Giles finally forced the Congress to reconsider ACORN funding and even appears to have prompted some official investigations into the operations of the group. If not for publicity on the internet, conservative talk radio and Fox News those in the mainstream media would likely have continued to ignore wrongdoing by ACORN. In fact, some network television and major national newspapers did not give the story any coverage until the Senate voted to cut off funding. ABC News lead anchor Charles Gibson said he didn’t even know anything about the video investigation story until well after it had been covered by Fox News and was all over talk radio and the internet.
Citizens should be troubled that the major news organizations in the country seemed so determined to ignore the story. They should be particularly concerned because they have a very real interest in what was going on at ACORN. Millions of taxpayer dollars have gone to the organization and those taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. Likewise, those in Congress with the responsibility of over-seeing those funds should be concerned about the type of activity that was being funded.
The American taxpayer was let down multiple times. They were let down by their representatives in Congress who ignored and/or made excuses for the group and they were let down by most in the news media who ignored or minimized some very serious problems within the group. I can’t help but wonder if not for the sensational nature of the undercover video operation if Congress and the media would ever have adequately addressed ACORN’s problems. They have ignored them for so long, I don’t know that anything short of ACORN workers on camera helping to facilitate a child prostitution operation would have raised an eyebrow from them.
Another reason citizens should be concerned about the ACORN operation is that they were on track to help conduct the next U.S. Census. Census numbers, of course, affect the way congressional districts are drawn. Thankfully another result of O’Keefe and Giles’ investigation is that the Census Bureau has severed ties with ACORN.
ACORN has played a large role in past elections and when campaigning, President Obama, who has a long history with the group, promised them a seat at the table if elected. As Michelle Malkin described it, “Obama's political DNA is encoded with the ACORN agenda.” Considering that strong connection there is no way to know just how involved ACORN might have been in shaping public policy over the course of the Obama administration if not for the work done by O’Keefe and Giles.
Those defending the group, like ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis, claim the problems found at various offices across the country are isolated cases of rogue employees. As Mary Katharine Ham put it, “I love how Bertha Lewis thinks it's exculpatory that only a handful of ACORN offices blithely help pimps and child prostitution.” The same was the case with the many incidents of voter registration fraud found in ACORN offices around the country.
Congressman Mark Foley was just one out of hundreds of congressmen, and one out of millions of Republicans, yet in 2006 the exposure of his inappropriate sexually suggestive instant messages to pages was offered as proof that Republicans were steeped in a culture of corruption. Those in the media heavily covered the story and helped build that culture of corruption storyline which played a large role in the huge losses experienced by the GOP in that election. Yet in the case of improper and even illegal activity in multiple offices of ACORN, they saw no reason to connect the dots and consider the cumulative nature of the evidence.
Citizens should be very concerned and troubled by what went
on at ACORN, but they should be even more so by the way that activity was
enabled by Congress and the media over a period of years.
Originally posted at American Issues Project.