ACORN employees advise how to cheat on taxes
Hidden-video by bloggers posing as pimp and ...
NAPLES — A national scandal — and the backlash surrounding it — now has ties to Southwest Florida.
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, on Tuesday co-sponsored a bill meant to strip funding from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, commonly known as ACORN.
Mack was among 144 House Republicans who co-sponsored the bill, according to OpenCongress.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Web site that tracks Congressional business.
The move came a day after the organization caught heat for a hidden camera video posted on BigGovernment.com. The video, released Monday, showed two ACORN employees as they seemed to advise a couple posing as a prostitute and her pimp to lie about her profession and launder her earnings.
The video was the latest in a series that led to the firing of four ACORN employees in Baltimore and Washington.
“It’s clear ACORN is engaged in voter fraud and tax evasion,” Mack said in an interview. “When you look at their activities, I think most people, even Democrats, (see they) are fraudulent in their activities.”
Steve Hemping, chairman of the Collier County Democratic Party, said his organization hasn’t taken a stand on the ACORN issue. He did say, however, that the request to strip ACORN of funding was “just more of the same” from Republicans.
The De-fund ACORN Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, would “prohibit the federal government from awarding contracts, grants or other agreements” to the organization.
Republicans got their wish to strip the group of its money Thursday, when the House voted 345-75 to eliminate funding for the group. The bill was attached to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
All of the ‘no’ votes were by Democrats.
Mack said he was pleased many House Democrats came out in support of the bill.
“There have been questions about ACORN for some time, but Democrats have typically defended (them),” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised by the action taken.”
The House wasn’t the only branch that spoke out against ACORN this week. The Senate on Monday voted 83-7 to deny housing and community grant money to ACORN.
The U.S. Census Bureau also severed ties with the group in anticipation of the 2010 census.
ACORN is a nonprofit social justice group whose purpose is to help “those who have historically been locked out become powerful players in (the) democratic system,” according to the group’s Web site.
Republicans last year accelerated attacks against the group when ACORN, in conducting a massive voter registration drive, was accused of submitting false registration forms.
Hemping said he couldn’t comment on the decision to strip funding, or on ACORN’s previous actions.
“I don’t represent ACORN and ACORN doesn’t represent the Democratic Party, so I really have no comment,” he said.
Republicans have urged federal officials to go further by launching a comprehensive investigation of how ACORN spends and manages federal money.
The Senate and House initiatives to cut funding for ACORN won’t take effect until the bills to which they are attached clear Congress and are signed by President Barack Obama. The Senate measure is attached to a fiscal 2010 spending bill.
“This doesn’t mean it’s over,” Mack said. “I think people are upset back home, and people are upset in Washington.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.