Bertha Lewis: in defense of ACORN in the face of scandal
Bertha Lewis, chief executive officer of ACORN, went to the National Press Club today to “set the record straight” about her scandal-hit community organizing group and accused Republicans of making the liberal organization a “boogeyman” as a way to raise funds.
“This form of modern-day ACORN McCarthyism has got to stop,” she told reporters.
Her first words set the stage.
“I’m Bertha Lewis and some of you may know me as the biggest threat to democracy in America,” she said.
“And most recently, some of you may know me as the head of an international brothel network,” she continued.
“So I thought this would be a good opportunity to reintroduce myself. I am Bertha Lewis, CEO of ACORN.”
The most recent scandal to strike ACORN was the secret filming by conservative activists of employees allegedly giving tax and housing advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute trying to set up a prostitution ring.
“It made my stomach turn over, it just made you sick,” Lewis said.
The employees were fired, but she said some of them were women who thought they were doing the right thing and “thought they shouldn’t be judgmental.” ACORN is suing the makers of the tapes.
ACORN also made headlines last year when Republican groups seized on allegations of voter registration fraud to accuse it of trying to push the election in favor of Barack Obama.
Lewis said the group itself turned over suspicious voter registration cards to authorities and that in the last presidential election there was not one ACORN-registered vote cast that was fraudulent — “Not one Mickey Mouse, not one Donald Duck, not one New York Jet, or any other fraudulent person.”
And then there was also a scandal involving the founder’s brother who is accused of embezzling nearly $1 million. Lewis says the founder was fired and stories that the embezzlement was $5 million were untrue and based on two disgruntled former members of ACORN’s board of directors.
Last month Congress approved legislation that would cut off federal money to ACORN.
“We didn’t have government funding for years. We may not have government funding in the future,” Lewis said. “If we don’t, ACORN will still go on.”
What do you think? Is ACORN being subjected to modern-day McCarthyism as Lewis says? Will the organization bounce back from the scandals?
Reuters/Molly Riley (ACORN rally in Washington March 2008)