Conservatives have cheered the Census Bureau's decision to sever ties with ACORN because it had lost confidence in the group, but the hidden-camera videos that prompted ACORN to fire four workers this week could raise more questions about the federal funding ACORN receives for housing outreach.
ACORN Housing Corporation received $1.6 million to provide housing services to low-income communities in this fiscal year, ending Sept. 30, according to USASpending.gov, a federal government Web site for tracking government grants.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development Grants has given $8.2 million to ACORN in the years between 2003 and 2006, as well as $1.6million to ACORN affiliates.
HUD could not be reached for comment.
The hidden-camera videos, released this week, showed workers in two separate ACORN housing offices apparently helping a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute evade the IRS and apply for an illegal housing loan for a brothel. A 25-year-old independent filmmaker, James O'Keefe, posed as the pimp in the undercover expose, which was conceived by a friend, 20-year-old Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the offices shown in the videos had received any of ACORN's federal grant money for housing services.
The Census Bureau notified ACORN on Friday in a letter that it is severing all ties with the group for all work having to do with the 2010 census.
"Over the last several months, through ongoing communication with our regional offices, it is clear that ACORN's affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts," read a letter from Census Director Robert M. Groves to the president of ACORN.
"Unfortunately, we no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices. For the reasons stated, we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership," the letter said.
ACORN responded Saturday by blaming FOX News and conservatives for fueling the controversy.
"By its actions, Fox is not a news outlet but rather an advocacy organization for rightwing interests that seek to defeat healthcare reform and stymie solutions to the foreclosure crisis," the group said in a statement to FOXNews.com. "That said, with regard to the Census, ACORN has always said it would encourage full participation in the decennial count, and we will continue to do so."
ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis claimed that the videos capturing her former workers were "doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist 'filmmaker' O'Keefe and his partner in crime."
Lewis said ACORN will take legal action against FOX News and those involved in the making for the videos. ACORN offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, among other places, were also targeted, she said.
"I am appalled and angry; I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video, who have since been terminated," she said