Holiday Vindication Ends Nutty Year for ACORN

By Michelle Chen Dec 24, 2009

It’s been a trough year for ACORN, fraught with YouTube scandals and right-wing radio gotchas. But the organization—a powerful anti-poverty advocacy group and favorite whipping post of GOP conspiranoiacs—got a little holiday cheer recently with two reports that essentially dispel the ACORN-as-antichrist myth peddled by the right. The first report, a formal audit of ACORN’s operations, traced many of the organization’s management issues to former head Wade Rathke and bureaucratic incompetence, not a drive to undermine democracy, as the far-right insists. And on Tuesday, a Congressional Research Service report found no instances of any violations of federal funding rules over the past five years, and scant evidence behind accusations that the group promoted the fraudulent registration of ineligible voters. (The report did, however, raise doubts about the legality of the video “sting” tactics used to scandalize ACORN.) Compared with the intense scrutiny prompted by the fraud allegations that surfaced during Obama’s presidential campaign, the CRS report, released in the midst of the winter holiday, will likely get far less press. But at least it might undercut the increasingly desperate-looking war on ACORN in Congress. A recent New York court ruling struck down the House resolution that would have cut off federal funding for the group. But consider it just a temporary setback for the anti-ACORN crusade, which will doubtless find some other way to demonize the organization as a symbol of what many right wingers fear the most: a complex national organization that can mobilize mass political action among poor people of color. So ACORN gets a respite from partisan attacks over the holiday break, but come 2010, stay tuned for more creative attempts to resurrect the deadest horse in Washington. Image: ACORN members protest the killing of Sean Bell in New York City (kptyson via flickr)