Special Report

ACORN Exposed

Just the latest in a long series of indecencies.

By 9.14.09

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ACORN's relentless death march continued last week as undercover sting videos surfaced in which the group's employees counseled reporters posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to set up a house of ill repute using tax dollars.

The sensational undercover video showed ACORN Housing employees in the group's Baltimore office trying to help the two journalists set up a brothel. The pair told ACORN employees that underage girls from El Salvador were ready to enter the U.S. and start working as child prostitutes.

The video, first shown on Andrew Breitbart's new website Big Government, was featured that day on Glenn Beck's TV program. Hannah Giles, who portrayed the prostitute in the video, told Beck she got involved in the project "to expose ACORN."

"I saw them as a thug organization that was getting my tax dollars," said Giles.

But guess who might be facing prosecution for exposing the group best known for its never-ending voter registration fraud scandals? You guessed it -- the conservative journalists involved in the undercover reporting of course!

Obama supporter Patricia Jessamy, Maryland State's Attorney for Baltimore City, released a statement saying the video might violate the state's anti-wiretapping law that was used against Linda Tripp after she recorded telephone conversations with President Clinton's Oval Office paramour Monica Lewinsky. The law requires consent to the recording by both parties in a conversation.

Always ready to smear conservatives, left-wing journalist Joe Conason said on the Sept. 10 "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that the filmmaker who portrayed the pimp may not be making himself available to the media because he feared prosecution for unlawful recording, as if the First Amendment's press protections don't apply in the state of Maryland.

Fox News contributor, former Judge Andrew Napolitano, said that's bunk. The Maryland statute does not apply to videotape recordings -- only to phone calls or other electronic "communications," Napolitano said.

Meanwhile, the radical group and crime syndicate that is a longtime ally of President Obama went into damage control overdrive after the videos showed ACORN officials advising the pretend prostitute and her procurer about how to get taxpayer funds, launder money, commit tax fraud, and commit who knows how many other crimes.

When ACORN learned of the video Thursday it fired the workers, called Fox News racist for airing the footage, and threatened a lawsuit.

Stuart Katzenberg, lead organizer for ACORN's Maryland branch, said that the employees were canned because they "did not meet ACORN's standards of professionalism." Sonja Merchant-Jones, head of Baltimore City ACORN, said that the workers were low-level part-time workers unsupervised by senior staff at the time.

Another video showing a similar scenario surfaced the next day. This time it was a slightly different undercover operation in which Washington, D.C. ACORN employees were only too willing to participate in the prostitution scam. ACORN promptly cashiered those employees too, screaming it was a victim of a "smear" campaign.

Marcel Reid, who is officially chairwoman of the D.C. chapter of ACORN, said that Katzenberg took over as lead organizer for Maryland and the District of Columbia after ACORN's national board expelled her last November for asking uncomfortable questions about the group's finances.

While Reid is chairwoman in name, she has been barred from the D.C. office since her expulsion from the board. She co-founded a reform group called ACORN 8.

When in charge of D.C. ACORN, Reid said she had no authority over ACORN Housing employees working in the D.C. ACORN office. Employees of ACORN Housing, a nonprofit legally separate from ACORN, share office space in ACORN offices across the country.

After Reid was booted out, Katzenberg became head organizer for Maryland and D.C. He was a key campaign official for Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) and ACORN Maryland went all-out last year to get Edwards elected.

It is also unclear why national ACORN officials such as chief organizer and CEO Bertha Lewis have gotten involved in spin-doctoring this latest corruption crisis. ACORN frequently likes to point out that ACORN Housing, which has taken in tens of millions of dollars in government grants, is a separate and distinct legal entity.

But that wasn't the end of ACORN's worst public relations week ever.

In addition to ACORN's underage illegal alien sex slave scandals, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Friday it was severing ties with ACORN regarding next year's decennial census. Census Director Robert M. Groves sent a letter to ACORN national president Maude Hurd explaining that "ACORN's affiliation with 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts."

Employing polite euphemism, Groves wrote that "recent events concerning several local offices of ACORN have added to the worsening negative perceptions of ACORN and its affiliation with our partnership efforts." Officials at the Census Bureau "no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices."

Just months earlier former ACORN organizer Gregory Hall warned of the dangers of allowing the group to be involved in the upcoming census while the Obama administration lied about the extent of ACORN's involvement in next year's national head count.

The administration had said the idea ACORN would be involved in any Census count was "baseless." A response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch revealed that ACORN was given the opportunity to "recruit Census workers" to participate in the count and "organize and/or serve as a member on a Complete Count Committee," which, according to Census documents, helps "develop and implement locally based outreach and recruitment campaigns."

Next it was revealed that ACORN founder Wade Rathke didn't have a problem with domestic terrorists trying to kill delegates at the Republican Party's national convention in 2008, according to former radical community organizer Brandon Darby.

After Darby worked with the FBI to stop a left-wing terrorist bomb plot at the RNC convention in Minnesota, Rathke denounced him for breaking the radicals' code of silence. In January Rathke suggested on his blog that it's better to let innocents die than squeal on your comrades in the struggle. It's "one thing to disagree, but it's a whole different thing to rat on folks," wrote the former organizer for the ultra-left Students for a Democratic Society, the same group that gave birth to Bill Ayers's Weather Underground.

This is the same Wade Rathke who orchestrated an eight-year coverup of his brother's nearly $1 million embezzlement of ACORN funds. When that conspiracy was unearthed last summer, Rathke was given the bum's rush from the organization he founded in 1970. He remains unapologetic about the scandal, claiming that if it had been disclosed when it happened the "right wing" would have used it to discredit ACORN.

As an added bonus, ACORN's name was thrown about as an epithet by speakers and other participants at the 9/12 national tea party rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Saturday.

Who knows what the coming weeks will bring.

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About the Author

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist at a conservative watchdog group in Washington, D.C. Vadum is also author of Subversion Inc: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.