On this election night, there is a stunning turn from ACORN.
It has filed for bankruptcy.
In an announcement on its website, Bertha Lewis, the CEO of the troubled activist group, says that ACORN has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the reason stemming from the legal troubles surrounding numerous voter registration investigations across the country. The scandals led Congress to vote to cut off federal funding, and the group also lost some government support.
"The ongoing political onslaught caused irreparable harm," wrote Lewis, who blames "a right-wing media blitz." She says "allegations and reports will continue to try to undermine all that ACORN has done, "but says that "ACORN will live on in the hearts of the people it served, and as those of us who fight for justice know, ‘THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED'."
In the last three years, dozens of ACORN workers were accused of, and numerous pleaded guilty to, voter fraud related charges. The investigations began in 2007, when King County prosecutors charged 7 ACORN workers with felony counts for allegedly submitting 1,800 phony voter registration forms. One ACORN worker admitted to prosecutors that it was "hard work making up all those cards," and another would sit at home filling out the bogus forms, while smoking marijuana.
The most recent case came on October 15th, when a former ACORN worker in Milwaukee pleaded guilty to voter fraud related charges of submitting multiple voter registration applications. The felony charges could bring up to 3 and ½ years in prison when the defendant, 27 year old Kevin Clancy, is sentenced the week after next.
ACORN always denied that the organization itself committed a crime, though it came under harsh criticism from a report issued by California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa. In the 2009 report, published by the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform, the study said that ACORN "has repeatedly and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and in order to manipulate the electorate."
Some ACORN offices apparently shut down, only to have new community organizations take their place.
Fox News found that one such organization, United Action, now operates out of the former ACORN offices in Philadelphia. ACORN posters still adorn the walls of the office, including a red ACORN sign urging people to "Vote November 5th."
ACORN itself is set to go on trial at the end of this month in Las Vegas. The organization, and its former regional director for voter registration, Amy Busefink, faces voter registration related charges in a case from the 2008 Presidential election. ACORN is accused of illegally attaching incentives to its voter registration drives, in a program it called "Blackjack," or "21."
In that case, former ACORN field director Christopher Edwards, pleaded guilty and will testify against ACORN and Busefink.