ACORN, calling the actions of some of its employees “indefensible,” has suspended advising new clients as part of its service programs and is setting up an independent review to see what happened.
ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis said in a written statement that she was “ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review.”
• Download the statement here.
• TWT RELATED STORY: ACORN fires back at critics after sting
The actions were taken, she said, “as a result of indefensible action of a handful of our employees.”
Videos of ACORN workers giving tax advice to people posing as prostitutes and other revelations have led to growing criticism of the organization in recent days.
Lewis continued: “We have all been deeply disturbed by what weve seen in some of these videos. 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. For nearly forty years, ACORN has given voice to communities, and gotten results. Right now, our nearly 500,000 member are working their hearts out for quality, affordable healthcare for every American and to help stop the foreclosure crisis. We must get this process right, so the good work can go forward.”
ACORN, an advocacy group, has fired at least four employees after hidden camera videos showed the group’s workers giving financial advice to women posing as prostitutes. The firings occurred in the group’s Washington and Baltimore offices.
ACORN has been targeted for years by conservative groups that consider it a sometimes unsavory arm of Democratic electoral politics. The Senate voted earlier this week to deny funding to the organization to help with the next census.
ACORN stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. It advocates for poor people. It conducted a large voter registration effort last year and 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.
The first videotape was made public on a political blog, BigGovernment.com.
In her statement, Lewis said “no new intakes will be accepted into ACORN’s offices for service programs, effective immediately.”
She also said the group would begin “immediate in-service training for all frontline staff.”
In addition, she said, “ACORN’s independent Advisory Council will help select an independent auditor/reviewer no later than September 18th to review all of the systems and processes called into question by the videos.”
In early 2009, ACORN set up an independent Advisory Council to help put together a new management team under Lewis. Lewis was appointed to the job in the fall of 2008 after disclosure of a set of improper management decisions by the founder of the organization.
The Advisory Council includes John Podesta, president of the liberal Center for American Progress; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland; Andrew Stern, international president of Service Employees International Union; Henry Cisneros, a former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; John Banks, vice president of Government Relations Con Ed; and Eric Eve, senior vice president of Global Consumer Group, Community Relations, of Citigroup.