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Saturday, March 27, 2010

If it looks like an ACORN and acts like an ACORN ...

Republicans say they know an ACORN when they see it, and just because the community activist organization says it's disbanding, that doesn't mean it's gone.

"Just as criminals change their aliases, ACORN is changing its name," California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a written statement. "But make no mistake about it, just because they change their name, doesn't mean anything has really changed at all."

Issa led an investigation into the group, which announced on Monday that it is closing after a series of undercover videos last year showed its employees offering tax advice to a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute, tarnishing the group's reputation and crippling its source of funding.

The congressman said ACORN's announcement is just another scheme designed to get its hands on taxpayer funds.

"As this most recent presidential election has showed us, just because you profess change, doesn't mean you're going to change," Issa said. "The bottom line is, whatever they decide to call themselves, they are still the same corporation with the same board, staff and people. Ultimately, the real question is: aside from their name, what is really going to change?"

ACORN's board decided to close state affiliates and field offices by April 1, with some national operations continuing to operate for at least several weeks before they shut down for good, spokesman Kevin Whelan told The Associated Press. While the group's political operations, including its much-criticized voter registration efforts, will close, the housing unit will remain open.

But most of the 20 chapters of ACORN are organizing under new names, a source within the group told Reuters.

Several of its largest affiliates, including ACORN New York and ACORN California, already broke away this year and changed their names in a bid to shed their parent organization's tarnished image and restore revenue that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal.

But the only difference between the new groups and ACORN is the names, Issa said. The groups are keeping the same employees and the same tax identification numbers. For example, Issa said, Affordable Housing Centers of America was formerly ACORN Housing. The new corporation has the same tax ID and employee identification number as ACORN Housing, which received millions of dollars in funding from the Department of Housing Urban and Development. (CONTINUES HERE)

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