Saturday, September 12, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — The advocacy group ACORN said Friday it fired two more employees over hidden camera videos that show the group’s workers giving financial advice to women posing as prostitutes.

The latest firings, in the Washington office, come a day after two other ACORN workers in Baltimore were fired over hidden camera footage.

Fox News Channel aired parts of the latest video and posted it online Friday. It shows a man and woman at the group’s Washington office, asking for help in buying a house for her prostitution business.

Fox News said the video was provided by conservative activist James O’Keefe, who appears in both videos.

The workers tell the woman not to list prostitution as her profession on housing loans. Instead, they suggest she create a false business name and tell banks that she’s a consultant for her own company.

The couple tells the workers they plan to bring several girls from Central America to work in the house. Another option the workers suggest is that the man could buy the house and act as a landlord unaware of what’s happening in the home.

Because of his political ambitions, the workers tell the supposed law student and potential office-seeker to avoid the house. They say the couple must be low-key about the business, or people could “call Fox.”

On Thursday, two other ACORN workers in Baltimore were fired after a they were recorded in a similar incident. O’Keefe, the filmmaker, has told FOX he posed as a pimp in the first video and that he was shocked by the ACORN employees’ helpfulness.

In Maryland, Delegate Anthony J. O’Donnell, House Minority Leader on Friday called for an investigation into ACORN by the state’s attorney general, Baltimore’s state’s attorney, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland.

In a statement, ACORN’s President of Housing Alton Bennett and Executive Director Mike Shea, said they were “appalled and angry” to see the latest video. They said there were no loan documents completed, no bank loans arranged and no new business established. They said the two workers were fired and an internal review of practices will be done.

But Bennett and Shea said the video was “slanted to misinform the public about ACORN Housing.” The video fails to mention that the same people who made the tape went to at least five other ACORN Housing offices where they were either turned away or where employees responded by calling police, they said.

“It is part of a long-term plan to smear ACORN Housing for political reasons and provide entertainment in the process,” Bennett and Shea said. “But that does not excuse the behavior of the employees.”

ACORN officials are asking Fox News to disclose its relationship with O’Keefe. An attorney for the group sent a letter to Fox News on Friday saying the filming and broadcast of the conversations violate secret recording laws. The letter demands that the network stop broadcasting the videos on air and the Internet in advance of litigation.

ACORN — which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — advocates for poor people. It conducted a massive voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some employees were accused of submitting false registration forms with names such as “Mickey Mouse.” ACORN has said only a handful of employees submitted false registration forms and did so in a bid to boost their pay.

On its Web site, Fox News reported that the first videotape was made public Thursday on a political blog,

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