A spokesperson for ACORN is denying a report published in City Hall earlier today that the national organization is splitting into unaffiliated state organizations. A follow-up report from Ben Smith quotes "a senior official close to the group" who says "ACORN has dissolved as a national structure of state organizations."
“It is not true that ACORN is closed for business all across the country. It still exists. Bertha Lewis is still the CEO," Kevin Whelan told me. "It is true that we are shutting down operations in New York and there is this new New York Community organization,” he added, referring to New York Communities for Change, the group that has emerged in ACORN's place. NYCC follows ACORN's California chapter, which in January reformed as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).
ACORN has been struggling in the wake of a scandal involving videos taken by Andrew Breitbart-funded conservative activist James O'Keefe, which appeared to show ACORN employees giving advice on how to run a prostitution business. Although the videos were heavily edited, Congress acted quickly to cut ACORN's federal funding. Since the scandal, the group has had difficulty raising money.
“It’s no secret that we’ve been hurt by all kinds of attacks that make it hard to raise money and do our job,” Whelan said. When asked whether other local ACORN chapters would be splintering off as well, he said it was likely.
“We know that organizers and leaders in different states are having to have discussions and making some choices," Whelan said. "I don’t think there will be announcements like this from every place ACORN is now, but I would expect that there could be some more like this in the coming days or weeks.”
So, while ACORN is denying that they're dissolving as a national organization, it doesn't seem entirely out of the realm of possibility, given the issues they're facing. Even if the national staff is sticking together, it's not clear how else to describe what happens if ultimately enough state chapters choose to break off.
-- A. Serwer