This piece was originally posted at BigGovernment.com on September 10, 2009.
Allegations are breaking against one of the most controversial organizations in the country. If true, then people could be going to prison, and Congress should immediately stop funneling taxpayer money to this organization until law enforcement has investigated the matter.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is regularly in the news, usually in stories where persons working for them are charged or even convicted of voter fraud or other election-related crimes. ACORN’s corporate leadership always disavows any knowledge of such criminal wrongdoing.
ACORN is also quick to point out the public service work that the organizations engages in, mostly related to housing for low-income people. And over the years ACORN has received vast sums of federal money in connection with this housing work.
But now a video recording and transcript have surfaced that–if genuine–could show persons allegedly affiliated with ACORN involved in a host of state and federal crimes, even aiding and abetting underage prostitution and exploitation.
According to the tape and transcript, two individuals posing as young people involved in prostitution, under the false names of Kenya and James, go to an ACORN-identified office in Baltimore, Maryland. They tell the worker, identified as Shira, that they are trying to get a house, and slowly leak details until the worker understands that the girl is saying she’s involved in prostitution. At that point, since Kenya’s “job” is a cash-only business for which Kenya doesn’t file a tax return, Shira says, “let me get someone here from taxes,” and brings in another woman calling herself Tonja.
The undercover couple continues to weave their story of criminal activity, and finally say that one reason they need a house is because they have thirteen El Salvadoran girls, all around age fifteen, that are in this country illegally and that they are pimping out as prostitutes. In short, they need a house to serve as a brothel for these girls.
At this point, the woman identified as Tonja reacts to this appalling information by telling them that Kenya should list three of these underage foreign prostitutes as dependents so that Kenya can receive a tax benefit (but not all thirteen because that could attract government scrutiny). Tonja goes on to advise Kenya to falsify the appropriate forms to say that they are family members.
The bottom line is this: Both state and federal law enforcement should immediately launch a full investigation of this matter. They should determine if this two-hour recording is legitimate (there is no reason to believe it’s a hoax, but obviously the first step is to confirm that it’s authentic). If so, then depending on the governing law in that jurisdiction, those on the video tape could possibly be indicted and charged with numerous crimes, including prostitution, tax fraud, housing fraud, conspiracy to commit each of the above, and even charges related to underage prostitution.
While James and Kenya know that there are no underage El Salvadoran girls and no prostitution, the people identified on the tape as being affiliated with ACORN evidently believe these statements were true, making them conspirators in all of the relevant crimes depending on the applicable laws regarding conspiracy in that jurisdiction.
Crimes involving the exploitation of children are among the most heinous that human beings are capable of committing. They are especially toxic to the rule of law because they devastate young lives, and undermine the victims’ confidence in a just society. If this video recording is confirmed as authentic, then what happened in Baltimore is utterly reprehensible, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted under the law.
What is all the more troubling here is that ACORN is involved in administering housing programs for the federal government, is involved in voter registration, and in jockeying to be a major part of the national census next year, going door-to-door and getting information from people in their homes.
There have now been criminal convictions of ACORN personnel in various states around the country, usually involving voting and elections. Should this video recording turn out to be legitimate, it raises grave concerns as to whether this is an isolated incident in Baltimore. It also raises a question of how high up the ACORN organizational ladder this information goes.
The truth needs to be sought out in this situation. And not a single dollar of taxpayer money should go to ACORN until it has been exonerated of all these incriminating allegations.