Governor Asks California Attorney General To Look Into Activities
POSTED: 5:11 pm PDT September 16, 2009
UPDATED: 7:45 pm PDT September 16, 2009
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Raising the stakes involved in the scandal surrounding the anti-poverty group ACORN, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is urging a "full investigation" by California Attorney General Jerry Brown into ACORN's California activities.
The governor sent a letter Wednesday to Brown, referring to "news stories regarding the ACORN organization that have concerned me greatly."
ACORN stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The group has come under fire after employees were caught on tape giving tax advice to conservative operatives posing as prostitutes and pimps.
The most recent video surfaced this week in San Bernardino and has been used extensively by Fox News and conservative Web sites.
"You can hear on the tape, the ACORN worker offering advice as to how to lie, how to claim that the house is a business, not a brothel," KTKZ talk show host Eric Hogue said Wednesday on his radio broadcast in Sacramento.
Callers weighed in, one saying, "It just makes me sick."
At ACORN's Sacramento offices on Florin Road, a worker who answered the door said she couldn't answer questions. Ronald Coleman, ACORN's legislative director in Sacramento, later confirmed that tax and mortgage services were being suspended for now.
"This is not how we should handle ourselves. We need to take this time to re-evaluate," Coleman said.
Bertha Lewis, ACORN's chief executive officer, called the action of the workers in the video "indefensible" and said an independent review would be launched.
It's unclear just how much federal money goes to ACORN in California. The state Department of Housing and Community development said it had no records of any state grants being awarded to ACORN.
The Sacramento ACORN office's budget is $300,000, according to state field director Christina Livingston. Many of those funds come from membership and fundraising, she said.
Outside the Sacramento office, Ruby Bradley said she was highly skeptical of the organization. She said she once applied for help with a housing loan with ACORN, but never got a response.
"I think it was poor business," Bradley said.
That complaint was echoed by Demario Anthony of Sacramento, who said his aunt's application was ignored.
"She stopped dealing with them," Anthony said. "We asked what happened, and she said she didn't want to talk about it."