COLUMNS

ACORN falls out of its tree?

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich is a reporter for The Gonzales Weekly Citizen. He can be reached at reporter1 @ weeklycitizen.com.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known simply as ACORN, has come under fire with the release of a series of unflattering undercover videos.

Unlike ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson, who admitted Tuesday that he didn’t know much about the current scandal, assuredly most of even casual news watchers have heard a thing or two about the ordeal.

For those who haven’t, here’s a quick recap: In at least four cases, ACORN workers were captured on video advising a young couple – who presented themselves as a pimp and prostitute – on how to get away with illegal activities.

Well, I probably shouldn’t skimp on the juicy details now.

Alright, for good measure, here’s more: The pretend prostitute, who is actually 20-year-old aspiring journalist Hannah Giles, was told to conveniently forget an entire figure on her income ($9,600 instead of $96,000) and list her occupation as “performance artist.”

Giles and her posing pimp, who is actually 25-year-old filmmaker James O’Keefe, dug up dirt on ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, New York, San Diego and San Bernardino, Calif.

As each video was released through BigGovernment.com, the illegal suggestions seemed to get more and more flagrant.

The ACORN worker in San Bernardino, identified as Tresa Kaelke in the video, apparently is shown consulting the pair on how to run an underage prostitution operation.

The couple tells Kaelke, who admits on the video to prostituting herself in the past, that they plan to bring in 12 girls from El Salvador to work as prostitutes in a “group home.”

OK, please tell me she knew this was a joke and only going along with the gag, because if she wasn’t...

Aha! She was only joking.

According to an ACORN press release, Kaelke said the two actors “were not believable” and she thought she would “shock them.”

At one point she claimed to shoot her husband dead.

She admitted that it was true that she was abused by her former husband, but the killing part was false.

So, some of the outrageous stuff she said was true, and some was a lie, and now in hindsight, ACORN gets to pick and choose which statements were fair game?

Better fire up those press releases because they have a whole lot of explaining to do.

For an organization that claims to be clear of wrongdoing, they are sure cleaning house and kicking into damage-control mode.

ACORN has turned to the chopping block and fired at least four employees, and ordered all of its “front-line” office workers to train again.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis even acknowledged the “indefensible action” of the employees.

“For nearly forty years, ACORN has given voice to communities, and gotten results,” Lewis said in a statement. “Right now, our nearly 500,000 member are working their hearts out for quality, affordable healthcare for every American and to help stop the foreclosure crisis. We must get this process right, so the good work can go forward.”

And that is certainly an admirable goal. Surely ACORN can get back on track and return to doing great things, but first, the organization needs to clear up these issues.