ACORN (Associations of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has been in the news for two weeks now, and the stories just keep coming. What is their claim to fame this time? In a video exposby two investigative journalists posing as a pimp and prostituted woman, ACORN offices across the United States are seen advising them on how to evade taxes, get loans to buy a house, and set up a brothel in which children will be exploited. I don’t know about you, but that kind of community organizing I can do without.
If the promotion of prostitution, pimping, and sex trafficking was an isolated incident, it could be construed as one bad ACORN on a tree, but the videotapes are showing bad ACORNs nationwide. The tree is rotting from the ground up and producing bad seeds in communities across the U.S.
When the videos are viewed, it is striking how at ease the ACORN employees are when confronting a pimp and prostituted woman. From the looks of it, this happens quite frequently in these offices. One employee actually says she used to prostitute and was also a pimp. Another employee manipulates the tax code to show the pimp how he can claim child sex trafficking victims as dependents. Oh, and these children were going to be trafficked in from El Salvador. They did not get around to discussing how to acquire fake social security numbers for 13 girls, but I’m sure that would have been no problem either. The tax evasion advice was given with confidence – ACORN runs tax filing assistance programs. And to think I pay my accountant to assist me in adhering to the law!
Did I mention that ACORN receives federal funding? According to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), ACORN has received more than $53 million in federal funds since 1994. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) states that affiliates of ACORN in 11 states received more than $31 million in federal funds between 1998 and 2008. FOX News reports that ACORN Housing Corporation was the recipient of close to $10.7 million in federal grants in 2008. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) wants the grant awarded to ACORN this month, totaling close to $1 million, repealed.
Thankfully, any money ACORN was to get from helping with the 2010 Census from the U.S. Census Bureau has been eliminated, as the Census Bureau severed their ties with ACORN. Do you think ACORN census takers would count the 13 Salvadoran sex slaves in the survey?
The Senate also passed the Johanns amendment that cuts all funding to ACORN in the current housing and transportation appropriations bill.
Here’s an idea. Take all the money that was going to ACORN and transfer it to the groups that operate shelters in the United States for victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. Very little funding is going towards the rehabilitation and restoration of the women and children who are brutalized and degraded in the same commercial sex industry the videotaped workers of ACORN seem so gung-ho to promote.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Acts (TVPRA) of 2005 and 2008 authorize funding for such shelters and for programs that end demand for the commercial sex industry. Defund an organization that promotes illegal activities and aids and abets prostitution and sex trafficking, and give it to organizations that are actually helping vulnerable members of our communities to restore their dignity.
In addition to the defunding, the Department of Justice should begin a full-scale investigation of ACORN for aiding and abetting sex trafficking. One of the new provisions of the TVPRA of 2008 makes it a crime to conspire to commit sex trafficking. If the ACORN employees had been successful in helping this pimp set up a brothel, at a minimum they would have been guilty of “reckless disregard” as ancillary supporters of child sex trafficking.
It is a disgrace that an organization that promotes community organizing employs people who think it is okay to exploit women and children in the sex industry. The tapes show they were trying to bring that exploitation to a neighborhood near you.