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Republican Lawmakers Turn Up the Heat on ACORN

A growing number of Republican lawmakers are calling for congressional hearings and IRS audits of ACORN following the release of three videotapes that show the group's employees offering advice to a "pimp" and a "prostitute" on how to skirt the law.

Rep. Steve King, R-IA, said a video released Monday that shows filmmaker James O'Keefe, 25, and Hannah Giles, 20, getting advice from ACORN employees in Brooklyn, N.Y., on how to launder their earnings and avoid detection while running a prostitution business is "another reason to turn it up" on ACORN.

Four ACORN employees -- two in Baltimore and two in Washington -- were fired late last week after videos showed the "pimp" and "prostitute" getting similar advice in those cities. In those videos, O'Keefe and Giles told the ACORN workers that they intended to bring underage girls into the country to work as prostitutes.

"If you see that it's endemic, that it's at least three cities will help support and organize and provide for lending to homes of prostitution for underage girls that come from foreign countries that are likely illegal, how many drugs are being dealt out of houses facilitated by ACORN?" King told FOX News on Monday. 

"What would they not do?" he asked of the ACORN workers. "Where would they reach a moral revulsion?"

King called on Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold investigations into ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, which also has been accused of widespread voter fraud during the 2008 presidential election. King also asked for a full "financial forensic analysis" into the group on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service.

"We saw into the offices of ACORN, we saw the faces of ACORN in Baltimore, in Washington, D.C., and in Brooklyn, and you have to imagine that's going on in every inner city across America where ACORN is set up," King said. "We've got to shut off every federal dollar to ACORN and we've got to investigate them thoroughly."

Calls to Conyers' office in Washington were not immediately returned on Monday. Officials at the IRS and the Department of Justice declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Jerry Schmetterer, director of public information for the Kings County District Attorney's Office, told FOXNews.com that officials will be "taking a look" into Brooklyn's ACORN office.

"We are going to be taking a look at the situation," Schmetterer said Monday.

A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said ACORN'S tax status as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization should also be probed.

"We've already seen the Census Bureau severe its tie with ACORN," the spokesman, Kurt Bardella, told FOXNews.com. "Certainly, as an organization being subsidized by taxpayer dollars, their relationship with other government entities should be called into question, and whether or not it's appropriate for them to receive taxpayer dollars."

In a statement to FOXNews.com, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said the videos in Washington and Baltimore show "clearly a pattern of improper partisan or fraudulent activities." He pointed to an amendment offered by Sens. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and David Vitter, R-La., that would ban ACORN from receiving direct or indirect federal funds under the FY 2010 Transportation-Department of Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill.

"It's up to the Democratic majority to determine whether or not Congress will investigate ACORN or hold oversight hearings to justify any future taxpayer funding of ACORN," Bartlett's statement read.

Johanns' amendment, to be introduced today, will prohibit funds to the group from several different accounts, including monies it receives through mortgage counseling, Community Development Block Grants, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

"ACORN has been in legal trouble in several states with raid after raid on their offices by officials looking into voter fraud. More than 30 ACORN officials have been convicted of fraud and new allegations of fraud are surfacing by the day," Johanns said in a statement released Monday. "It's wrong to give tax dollars to a group with multiple convictions of undermining our democratic process and our laws. So, I'm introducing measures to stop the federal funding of ACORN."

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said last week that the videos suggest multiple incidents of tax fraud, and called for a hearing to investigate ACORN's tax filing assistance programs.

"In light of the apparent flagrant and willful attempts to suborn tax fraud, I ... (am seeking) a hearing of the Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee as soon as practicable to investigate ACORN's activities," he said Friday.

The Census Bureau notified ACORN on Friday in a letter that it was severing all ties with the group for all work related to 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 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," the letter continued. "For the reasons stated, we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership."

In response, ACORN officials blamed 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 said 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 of the videos. She said ACORN offices were also targeted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Philadelphia, among other places.

"I am appalled and angry," Lewis said. "I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video, who have since been terminated."

According to USASpending.gov, a federal government Web site for tracking government grants, ACORN Housing Corporation received $1.6 million to provide housing services to low-income communities in this fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Grants has given $8.2 million to ACORN between 2003 and 2006, as well as $1.6 million to ACORN affiliates.