ACORN to Shut Down by April 1

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CHICAGO - Citing declining revenue and right-wing attacks, ACORN officials announced on Monday that it will close all its offices by April 1.

"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.

In a statement released on Monday, the 40-year-old group, which bills itself as "the nation's largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people," said it is "developing a plan to resolve all outstanding debts, obligations and other issues."

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) lost much of its credibility last fall when some of its staffers were videotaped advising a "pimp" and a "prostitute" how to conceal their activities and evade the IRS. 

When the conservative activists playing the pimp and prostitute released the video, Congress cut off all housing and urban development grants, and the IRA dropped its Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program.

Later a Brooklyn district attorney's office investigating the videotaping concluded that one of the two activists - James O'Keefe - may not have been "dressed as a pimp" when he was talking to the staffers.

But O'Keefe had evidence from other sting operations, when he was portraying a pimp, of ACORN employees advising him how to hide prostitution activities from the authorities.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called the video a "manufactured, sensational story."

"ACORN has faced a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era," Lewis said in a statement released over the weekend.

"The videos were a manufactured, sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress," she said.

Matthew Vadum, senior editor of the Washington-based Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank that has been researching and writing about the group for years, said he "won't be shedding any tears" over the shutdown.

"For ACORN to claim that it's a victim of McCarthyism, as I've seen CEO Bertha Lewis do repeatedly, doesn't even pass the laugh test. It can't be taken seriously," he said in a telephone interview with CNN.

"ACORN is a thoroughly corrupt organization that abuses taxpayer dollars and breaks the law at every opportunity," Vadum said. "To suggest that it was set up is laughable," he said.

ACORN's 400,000-strong membership has lobbied for liberal causes, such as raising the minimum wage or adopting universal health care, though allegations of fraud have dogged the organization for years.


AP, CNN and The New York Times contributed to this report.

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