In response to shocking allegations of corruption having taken root at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) today announced his plan to introduce legislation that would prevent the embattled group from receiving state funding.
Kolb’s call comes after a series of damaging videotaped revelations showing two employees at ACORN – which receives public funding – counseling individuals posing as a pimp and prostitute on defrauding the government and committing other serious crimes including child prostitution and immigrant smuggling. The story first broke on the new media website Big Government. The ACORN employees caught on camera have since been terminated.
“A recent undercover investigation clearly demonstrated there were some bad seeds working at ACORN,” Kolb said.
“At the very time New York faces a $2.1 billion budget deficit for 2009-10, to say nothing of the anticipated out-year gaps, there is no reason for ACORN to receive a dime of state taxpayer money while such an ominous legal and ethical cloud hangs overhead. My bill would prevent ACORN from obtaining any taxpayer dollars until all the corruption is weeded out,” Kolb stated.
The following represents just some of the thousands of dollars in state funding ACORN has received from 2008 onwards. Figures were compiled through the Assembly Minority Ways and Means Committee and the State Division of the Budget:
- 2008: ACORN was awarded a $365,000 State Housing Trust Fund grant. The contract was executed in January 2009 and, as of mid-September, ACORN has received two payments totaling $121,667;
- 2008-09: Assembly Majority Member Items for ACORN included Camara-$4,000; Cook-$7,000; Gottfried-$3,500; Greene-$10,000; Jeffries-$10,000; Perry-$2,500; Pheffer-$5,000; Powell-$10,000; Robinson-$5,000; and Towns-$5,000;
- 2009: ACORN received $47,146.62 from the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) and is slated to receive an additional $63,569.27 in combined federal-state taxpayer monies; and
- 2009-10: Senate Majority Member Items for ACORN include Hassell-Thompson-$20,000; Montgomery-$25,000; Monserrate-$20,000; Parker-$20,000; and Perkins-$10,000.
Launched in 1970, ACORN, according to its website, is “the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities across the country.”
ACORN has six offices in New York State alone, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Schenectady, Hempstead and Central Islip. The non-profit organization has come under scrutiny related to the embezzlement of $1 million in ACORN funds, as well as allegations of voter registration fraud.
Last week, both houses of Congress voted to restrict ACORN from receiving federal funding. Kolb’s legislation would mirror action taken at the federal level. As reported by the Associated Press yesterday, President Obama has said he favors an investigation into the unfolding ACORN scandal.