Big Win For ‘Big Government’: ACORN Officially Calls It Quits

A consolation prize for conservatives still sulking about health care reform: a month after announcing that some of its local affiliates were breaking off and renaming themselves in an attempt to escape the organization’s notoriety, ACORN is officially going out of business. Already having done some down-sizing, the group has set an April 1st deadline to shut down all major operations on the national level. And yes, officials say, this is the direct result of last September’s hidden camera scandal.

ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan left no doubts as to why the group chose to shut down in a statement quoted in an Associated Press report: “It’s really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activist [sic] that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need.” ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis also confirmed the claim, stating that her group has “faced a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era.” She also addressed the hidden camera footage of James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles successfully finding assistance to support an underage sex traffic ring, keeping with her original line of attack that it “a manufactured, sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress.”

It’s easy to take the news at face value and celebrate (or mourn) the end of an era. In fact, the remains of ACORN as it moves on to the organizational afterlife would probably prefer the attention to pivot around the end of the group and not the end of its national structure, since the change means the end of ACORN in name only. The group’s largest factions, which include those in New York and California, threw their lifeboats out to sea last month and are now watching the ship sink from a distance. Their basic functions, however, remain unaffected by the change.

On the one hand, it is a lesson that citizen journalism backed by some powerful allies can take down a group with national influence (even adorned in a fur coat and cape)– pats on the back are in order. On the other, grabbing a hold of these organizations to go in for the kill is sort of like trying to catch falling water– they just keep changing their outward shape without altering their essence. Now the local chapters of ACORN are all individual organizations, thus too small to attack for any wrongdoing and get major national publicity, they hope. Congratulations are in order, then, to the former ACORN: their group has evolved into a more elusive beast.

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