The Senate and the House voted with overwhelming majorities to cut off funding to ACORN this week – the organization that’s been under a load of recent ridicule because of a video showing malpractice.
In the video, two 20-somethings working as investigative journalists posed as a prostitute and a pimp and sought advice from ACORN employees about how to buy a house and use it to run a prostitute ring for underage girls from El Salvador.
The problem? The employees attempted to give the two legitimate advice on how to make this work. They told the man to tell anyone who asked that he was the landlord and didn’t know what was going on inside. He was told to be “low key” and “discreet.”
They told the female she needed to make up a fake line of business so she could put something on her tax returns and to call herself a “marketeer” or a “consultant.”
Cutting off federal funding to an organization breaking several federal laws like this is a no-brainer.
ACORN hadn’t received any stimulus money, but was eligible to receive up to $8.5 billion. However, since 1994 it had only received $53 million, according to the Washington Examiner.
While there’s no denying $53 million is a significant amount of money, it only translates to a little more than $3.5 million per year, which is considered pocket change in governmental spending.
That’s not to say what happened at ACORN isn’t significant. Any organization trying to bypass laws to set up brothels deserves to be examined whether it receives federal money or not.
However, what’s not being discussed in this matter is what ACORN does – with federal money and with its own funds.
The organization’s mission statement says its members “take on issues of relevance to their communities, whether those issues are discrimination, affordable housing, a quality education or better public services.” Much of its activity deals with voter registration and giving voice to those who have may have been socially or economically denied it before.
Those aren’t all bad things.
But even before this video was revealed, ACORN had a muddied slate, most pointedly from charges of voter registration fraud last year.
However, we must be reminded that what’s gone wrong with ACORN has been only a few instance out of several thousand . As the nation’s largest grassroots organization, there are more than 1,200 neighborhood branches of ACORN set up across the country.
Each of these branches deals with low to moderate income people on a daily basis. As such, it seems almost inevitable for some problems to arise.
A cut in government funding hasn’t been the only change made since the video’s release. The organization has stopped new service intakes, ordered an immediate retraining of all employees and called for its advisory board to review all systems and processes in the video.
Such reform is undoubtedly necessary. However, it would be unfortunate if the recent scandal tarnishes ACORN’s reputation beyond repair.
The country needs organizations such as ACORN that are committed to helping the impoverished. And every organization has a little scandal – take for example, our own federal government.