NEW YORK (CBS/AP) They went undercover and posed as a pimp and a prostitute, and now 25-year-old conservative activist James O'Keefe, and his partner, a scantily clad 20-year-old college student dubbed "Kenya," have raised serious questions about ACORN, who they claim, offered the two unfettered, and perhaps illegal, advice.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which advocates for poor people, has since fired the two employees captured in O'Keefe's video.
On the video, a man and woman visiting a Baltimore ACORN office asked about buying a house and how to account on tax forms for the woman's ill-gotten income. An ACORN employee advised the woman to list her occupation as "performance artist."
The pair also claimed they planned to employ teenage girls from Central America as prostitutes, and an ACORN employee suggested that up to three of the girls could be claimed as dependents, according to transcripts of the video posted online by O'Keefe.
O'Keefe told Fox News he was shocked by the ACORN employees' helpfulness.
In a statement, ACORN Maryland board member Margaret Williams said the video was an attempt to smear ACORN, and that undercover teams attempted similar setups in at least three other ACORN offices. Police were called when undercover activists turned up at a Philadelphia ACORN office.
O'Keefe seems to refute that claim on this website. Regarding a similar CNN report he wrote, "First CNN pushed the false ACORN line that '[t]his film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed.'"
Regarding the Baltimore sting, Williams said no tax returns were filed and no assistance was provided.
The political blog BigGovernment.com made the internet videos public Thursday and they instantly became an Internet sensation.
When asked to comment on the videotape, Scott Levenson, a spokesman for ACORN said: "The portrayal is false and defamatory and an attempt at gotcha journalism. This film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed. ACORN wants to see the full video before commenting further," according to Fox News.
ACORN — which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — advocates for poor people. It conducted a massive voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some employees were accused of submitting false registration forms with names such as "Mickey Mouse." ACORN has said only a handful of employees submitted false registration forms and did so in a bid to boost their pay.
What do you think?
You can watch the video at BigGovernment.com.