When ACORN closed up shop last month, the move represented a victory for right-wingers who had successfully cast the group as evil incarnate, after staffers were caught on videotape offering tax advice to two conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.
Less than two weeks after ACORN's disbanding, the group is once again in national conservatives' cross hairs. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) is accusing the defunct non-profit of resurfacing under a confederacy of pseudonyms.
Here in Minnesota, says Issa, the alleged reincarnation takes the form of the Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.
The group flatly denies the charge.
"We're a new organization," says Steve Fletcher, the group's executive director. "We have a lot of former ACORN staff members, and we share the goal of empowering low income communities, but we are a new organization."
Sunday Alabi, the organization's chair and former ACORN board member, says Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change is located in a different address than the former local ACORN chapter, and is independently funded and operated. With no national funding apparatus, the group relies on membership dues and private grants.
"ACORN is gone," he says. "What else do they want us to do? Jump on the top of a tree and yell, 'We're not a part of ACORN!'?"