- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said Thursday the ethics investigation into the community activist group ACORN will yield no meaningful findings unless it reaches into the top levels of the organization or the White House gets involved.

“I think this whole thing is bogus,” said Mr. Beck, a Fox News talk-show host.

ACORN on Wednesday named former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, a Democrat, to lead an independent inquiry into the liberal group’s social-services program. The inquiry follows the recent release of videotapes showing undercover operatives posing as a prostitute and pimp seeking tax and housing advice at five ACORN offices.

“It’s a show,” Mr. Beck told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. “They moved too fast, too quietly. The president is not involved. Until you start going to the people at the top … the people connected to the White House, you cannot clean up this mess.”

Mr. Beck noted that ACORN’s advisory board includes Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and former Maryland lieutenant governor; John Podesta, a Clinton administration chief of staff; and Henry G. Cisneros, secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration.

“How could you possibly clean up ACORN with these people on the board,” Mr. Beck said. “You have the worst of the worst sitting on this board making decisions.”

Mr. Obama’s election committee hired an ACORN affiliate to help with get-out-the-vote efforts in the 2008 campaign. The group also is being investigated for voter-registration fraud.

The flap over ACORN is one of several issues that has riled up liberals and others against Mr. Beck, and now a planned visit to his hometown of Mount Vernon, Wash., this weekend has divided that town.

Groups have demonstrated on the streets and in City Council meetings about Mr. Beck’s visit, according to the Associated Press, and petitions have been collected calling for cancellation of the visit. A small-business owner put up a sign that says: “Glenn Beck & Hatred not welcome here.” And the leader of nearby Whatcom County has offered the key to his city to Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” in sort of a mayoral rebuttal after Mount Vernon Mayor Bud Norris proclaimed Sept. 26 as “Glenn Beck Day” to honor his success as a nationally known broadcaster.

The media circus and the strong public reaction over the event has not fazed Mr. Norris.

“I knew him here as a kid,” Mr. Norris, a Republican, told the AP. “I was really unaware, really, of what he was doing in the last 25 years or so until I became aware he was on CNN. … I decided to recognize him for his professional achievement, not for his political views.”

The announcement sparked a wave of opposition, riling up liberals in and around Mount Vernon, an agricultural city of 26,000 people, according to the AP.

In a statement, Mr. Beck said, “The people of Mount Vernon are great people and I’m humbled by this honor and proud to be from there.” He added he learned the value of hard work in his family’s bakery.

In his show, though, Mr. Beck poked fun at the surrounding controversy.

“I’m afraid of even landing in my own home state. It used to be sane in Seattle. In the outlying areas, it used to be sane. Now, not so much,” Mr. Beck said on his radio show Sept. 2, according to the AP. “You don’t know some of these people in Seattle … they don’t have a life. They’re out hugging salmon and setting them free.”

S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

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