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Gov. Carcieri '65 takes aim at ACORN

Rhode Island began a review Monday to ensure that no state payments are going to the state branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or any of its affiliates, said Amy Kempe, press secretary to Gov. Donald Carcieri '65.

ACORN, a national community organizing group, has fallen under widespread political criticism and scrutiny in the past few weeks after footage of some of its employees offering support to an undercover prostitute and pimp were made public on the Internet. (ACORN has since sued the makers of the video, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.)
The House of Representatives voted last week to end all federal funding to the organization.

On Friday, Carcieri ordered all state agencies to immediately stop payments to ACORN and requested a comprehensive review of state funds that may be going to affiliates of the organization, Kempe said.

"It is unconscionable for a single dime of taxpayer money to be spent to support an organization that is engaged in this type of activity," Carcieri said in a statement on Saturday.

ACORN is a community organization dedicated to aiding lower- and middle-class families with issues such as housing, education, safety and health care on a locallevel. But ACORN has been the target of attacks claiming Democratic favoritism and voter fraud for months — and is only now facing serious political repercussions.

Amateur actors dressed as a prostitute and a pimp used hidden cameras to document their visits to ACORN offices, where they asked for advice on how to pursue their illegal activities. The videos were initially posted on the Web site and have since become a YouTube  hit.

Shannon McDonald, who answered the phone at ACORN's Rhode Island headquarters, said the organization was not dependent on the local government. "We haven't received state funding in years," he said.

The Rhode Island branch of ACORN has not been in conversation with the state since Carcieri's announcement, Kempe said.

In a statement on the organization's Web site dated Sept. 17, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said she was "disappointed" that Congress had taken action to single out the organization. She said ACORN had been the victim of  "a multi-year political assault stemming variously from the Bush White House, Fox News and other conservative quarters."

"ACORN derives most of its income from its members and other supporters, so the decision will have little impact on overall operations," she added in the statement.

There is no indication as to how long a review of state payments may take, Kempe said, though she emphasized that any funding found to be reaching the organization will be immediately terminated.


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