Democratic lawmakers in a handful of states are facing pressure from Republicans to distance themselves from the Service Employees International Union as a result of its ties to ACORN.
Republicans in Kansas, Virginia and Illinois in recent weeks have called on union-backed Democrats to return SEIU campaign contributions, citing the close connection between the union and the community organizing group, whose full name is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
ACORN has been under fire in the past month after secretly recorded videos showed ACORN employees offering advice on evading taxes, setting up brothels and smuggling illegal immigrants. ACORN has called the actions unacceptable and has fired the workers involved.
The Virginia Republican Party urged Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds to return campaign contributions from the SEIU, one of the biggest financial backers of Democratic candidates. Deeds received a total of $200,000 from the SEIU in 2009, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign contributions in the state.
"The close, almost symbiotic, relationship that SEIU and Acorn have call into question the propriety of being so closely involved with this union," said Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the Virginia GOP. A spokesman for Deeds couldn't be reached for immediate comment.
Michelle Ringuette, an SEIU spokeswoman, said the union had suspended all organizing work with Acorn, pending a review of the organization. She said Republicans are engaged in a "smear" campaign against the union.