Cast of Characters
Progressive Coalition Comes Out for ACORN
By Carol D. Leonnig
Leaders of several progressive community groups stood up Thursday to defend ACORN, the community organizing group under fire and under threat of losing all federal funding, after some of its employees were caught on videotape appearing to give advice on how to conceal a prostitution business.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has hired a lawyer to investigate its internal operations in the wake of the firestorm that followed a handful of undercover You Tube videos. They aired last month and were filmed in ACORN's housing counseling offices in Maryland, New York and California, and prompted the House and Senate to separately pass bans on future funding for the group.
The liberal groups urged that Congress step back and allow an independent inquiry to be completed before rushing to punish ACORN. They said the organization's work, in helping low-income families get health care, stave off foreclosure, and find jobs, is critical in this recession particularly.
"Nonprofit organizations that stand up for the powerless in our society and that provide vital services in our communities have never been needed more than they are today," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. "As ACORN takes steps to get its house in order, Congress should take a deep breath and give this process time to work."
Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, said the significant turmoil within ACORN over finances and an internal embezzlement scandal must be weighed against its other contributions.
"It has won ground-breaking victories for low income communities on issues such as housing, community reinvestment, predatory lending, and living wage standards," he said. "The world is a better place because of the work done by ACORN. For these reasons, ACORN deserves a chance to review and reform its organizational systems and processes."
Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, urged Congress and taxpayers to "keep things in perspective" and noted that ACORN swiftly moved to retrain employees after the embarrassing videos aired but has historically been a critical resource to poor communities.
"ACORN is not the scourge that some right-wing shouting heads would like the public to believe," he said. "It's an organization with a valuable mission that has made some missteps and is trying valiantly to correct them. We support ACORN's efforts to put its house in order. And ACORN deserves the chance to earn the public's trust once again."
Posted at 3:45 PM ET on Oct 1, 2009
Cast of Characters
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