ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis had a message for everyone this morning: It's not her fault.
As the leader of the embattled, taxpayer-funded group conducts what she calls her “set-the-record-straight” tour, Lewis points an awful lot of fingers outward, and shows a surprising lack of public penitence.
In her morning presser at the National Press Club, Lewis made much of her efforts to fix ACORN after the million-dollar embezzlement scandal that rocked the organization last year. “I don't think it's fair to judge me,” she says, “as I'm cleaning up after a previous administration.” But she hasn't purged the organization of the people who hid the embezzlement for nearly a decade. And she sat by as ACORN expelled two board members who wanted to make the pertinent financial records public.
That doesn't look like a real housecleaning at all.
This year, ACORN workers in several cities were caught on videotape abetting tax fraud and underage sex-trafficking. Lewis blames those two meddling kids with the hidden camera. They forced her to fire a handful of people whom she described as “mothers and grandmothers who thought they were doing the right thing, who thought they shouldn't be judgemental.” In some cases, she said, the ACORN workers caught in illegal activity “had been working with us for over ten years.”
And how many times in those ten years do you suppose these mothers and grandmothers advised clients to bury money in their backyards, fraudulently claim employees as “dependents” and use other such methods to cheat on their taxes? The ACORN workers volunteered all of that advice to the undercover filmmakers.
ACORN is now suing the filmmakers because they may have broken Maryland's wiretap law while making one of their tapes. Lewis defended the lawsuit, claiming that the two should be held accountable because “[n]othing trumps breaking the law. Nothing. Nothing.”
One of these days, someone with authority should say something like that to ACORN employees.