The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) announced it was suspending operations after “indefensible actions” by some of its employees were exposed by conservative filmmakers and said it would rely on high-profile advisory board members to help the organization reform its ways.
One of those advisory members is John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. This could pose a burden to CAP, a group already under fire from conservatives for giving former White House “green jobs czar” Van Jones a job after he resigned from the Obama administration. Mr. Jones stepped down after his signature of a 9/11 “truther” petition, statement about communism and other questionable ties to various oragnizations went public. Videos secretly taped by activists James O’Keefe and Hanna Giles show ACORN workers giving advice on how to obtain federal funds in order to run a brothel and hide income from the Internal Revenue Service, among other things.
ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis spoke for her advisers by saying in a statement: “I must say, on behalf of ACORN’s Board and our Advisory Council, that we will go to whatever lengths necessary to reestablish the public trust.”
Her statement noted that the advisory council was created to help ACORN regain its footing “after disclosure of a set of improper management decisions by the founder of the organization” last year.
Mr. Podesta posted a message on CAP’s blog Think Progress appaluding ACORN for acknowledging its problems. “Accountability starts with knowing all the facts,” he said. “ACORN, which is doing important work in advocating for lower-income Americans all across this country, is taking an important step today by acknowledging its need for reform and demonstrating its desire to take corrective action.”
Other members of the advisory council named by ACORN in its statement were Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Maryland lieutenant governor; Andrew Stern, international president of the Service Employees International Union; and Henry G. Cisneros, executive chairman of CityView and former Clinton administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Mrs. Townsend immediately gave support to the troubled organization by saying in the statement: “ACORN has a long history of serving those who most need help, and giving voice to those who have been left behind. We will take the necessary steps to ensure that ACORN functions with the highest levels of ethical standards and competence.”
UPDATE: CAP Vice President of Communications Anne Soellner emailed to say that Mr. Jones had not been offered a job at their group and that “as our friend and former colleague, we offered him work space to use while he decides what he wants to do next but has not taken us up on the offer.”