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Money woes force ACORN to disband

Associated Press / March 23, 2010

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CHICAGO — The once mighty community activist group ACORN said yesterday it is folding amid falling revenues — six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.

“It’s really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need,’’ ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.

Several of its largest affiliates, including ACORN New York and ACORN California, broke away this year and changed their names in a bid to ditch the tarnished image of their parent organization and restore revenue that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal. They will continue to operate under their new names.

ACORN’s financial situation and reputation went into free fall within days of the videos’ release in September. Congress reacted by yanking ACORN’s federal funding, private donors held back cash, and scores of ACORN offices closed.

Earlier this month, a US judge reiterated an earlier ruling that the federal law blacklisting ACORN and groups allied with it was unconstitutional because it singled them out. But that did not mean any money would be automatically be restored.

Bertha Lewis, the chief executive of ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, alluded to financial hardships in a weekend statement as the group’s board prepared to deliberate by phone.

ACORN’s board decided to close remaining state affiliates and field offices by April 1 because of falling revenues. Some national operations will continue to operate for at least several weeks before they shut for good, Whelan said yesterday.