Michele Bachmann, who has made a cottage industry out of trying to rub ACORN off the face of the Earth, won't be liking this. Nor will the Joe Basel contingent of fake journalists working for the Republican Party. Ben Smith at Politico reports that New York District Attorney for Brooklyn, Joe Hynes, has cleared the community organizing group of any criminality after some of its staffers were secretly videotaped offering financial advice to a fake pimp and hooker.
Note that Hynes did not comment on whether ACORN staffers committed acts of total incompetence by falling for the ruse, which was undertaken specifically to smear the organization.
On September 15, 2009, my office began an investigation into possible criminality on the part of three ACORN employees. The three had been secretly videotaped by two people posing as a pimp and prostitute, who came to ACORN'S Brooklyn office, seeking advice about how to purchase a house with money generated by their 'business.' The 'couple' later made the recording public. That investigation is now concluded and no criminality has been found.
It's the second time ACORN has won a legal round in New York. Back in December, U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that Congress could not declare that a single, named organization -- ACORN -- be barred from all federal funding by Congress in the absence of a trial.
She acknowledged the controversy over ACORN, but pointed out that she was not ruling on the validity or falsehoods of the claims against the group. Rather, she was ruling on the constitutionality of arbitrarily singling out a group for defunding based only on accusations, and without giving the group its day in court. ACORN, she wrote, "established the likelihood of irreparable harm absent an injunction and that issuance of a preliminary injunction is in the pubic interest."
Accusations are easy, of course. And damage has already been done. In Brooklyn, ACORN has been forced to regroup and re-brand under a new moniker: NY Communities For Change. And the group is facing a serious ability to function in various chapters around the country as funding sources pull back.
It may have won a round or two in court, but the court of public opinion is something else entirely.