The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is in serious damage control mode. They filed a lawsuit against the amateur undercover investigators responsible for the scandalous hidden camera filming of their employees at several ACORN facilities. The incriminating videos were the result of an investigation by James O’Keefe, a film maker, and Hannah Giles, a journalism intern. James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles may find themselves behind bars if the lawsuit is successful.
The political fallout has been heated, and has cost ACORN thousands of dollars of government funding. The public relations nightmare is a new experience for the organization that garnered recent notoriety for their support of President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and the harsh spotlight is on ACORN and their public image has taken a crushing blow forcing them to defend themselves against accusations of corruption.
When the scandal broke, clips of the videos were continuously played on the FOX news network and other cable news channels. The inflammatory video footage shows ACORN employees giving tax advice to O’Keefe and Giles, who were pretending to be a pimp and prostitute, about how to defraud the federal government. The ACORN employees were under the misconception that O’Keefe and Giles were involved in prostitution, and were seeking tax advice about a brothel that they were operating. The ACORN employees explained how to get around federal and state tax laws. They advised Giles, who they thought was a prostitute, to list her occupation as “freelancer, entertainer, or performance artist” on her tax returns. Also, an ACORN tax specialist recommended that underage prostitutes can be listed as “dependents” and suggested other fraudulent ways to claim tax write offs.
It’s hard to believe that such a prominent organization that received government funding has employees who flagrantly disregard federal and state laws, and casually give advice on how to defraud the government. But the hidden camera videos are impossible to discredit or ignore. For those who have been living under a rock and missed the endless replays on the cable news networks, the scandalous ACORN videos can be found on Youtube and other video sharing websites.
According to James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles their investigation cost them $1300 of their own money; ACORN representative are dubious about O’Keefe and Giles acting on their own. They suggested that there are other forces with an agenda behind O’Keefe and Giles, and that the lawsuit will reveal if there is a larger conspiracy to undermine the credibility of ACORN.