ACORN is in very deep, very public trouble, and the U.S. attorney general should appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate. What we know so far is due entirely to two amateur reporters, James E. O'Keefe III, 25, and Hannah Giles, 20, who managed to videotape a web of corrupt practices in ACORN offices. Dressed as a pimp and prostitute, O'Keefe and Giles walked into ACORN offices from New York to California and simply asked for business advice. ACORN officials were happy to provide it and were secretly recorded explaining exactly how to evade the law and scam the government. The tapes were riveting. Fox News rolled out a new one each night for a week, creating a firestorm of outrage and a burgeoning political scandal.
ACORN employees, without raising an eyebrow, much less calling the police, explained how the young sex workers could label themselves "performance artists," underreport their income, evade taxes, fraudulently buy a house to ply their trade, and, worst of all, import underage girls from Central America to use as child prostitutes. One ACORN employee helpfully explained that the teenagers would even be tax-deductible since they would be "dependents," living in the pimp's house. Some states, led by California, are saying they will investigate. But this is a national scandal and there ought to be a full-scale national inquiry. To ensure impartiality -- and the appearance of impartiality -- political appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice should recuse themselves. This case demands an independent federal prosecutor.
Independent prosecutors should not be appointed lightly. But in this case, there are good reasons why Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and other political appointees in the Justice Department should step aside. First, although no allegations have yet touched the Obama campaign, ACORN did have significant ties to the campaign and other progressive causes. Published reports show that ACORN and its subsidiaries received some $800,000 from the Obama campaign to get out the vote. Second, ACORN is intimately tied to the Service Employees International Union, one of President Barack Obama's most powerful and vocal supporters. (CONTINUES)