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Blowback in the ACORN Wars

September 16, 2009 10:15 AM

Recent videos posted online and aired repeatedly on Fox News Channel that seem to show ACORN workers allegedly advising two 20-somethings dressed up as a pimp and prostitute on how to skirt the law, the community group has taken some major hits as of late.

On Friday the Census Bureau severed its relationship with the group for the 2010 census. On Monday the Senate overwhelmingly voted to deny Housing and Urban Development funds to the group.
And congressional Republicans in general have been asking the federal government to terminate relationships with the group and investigate various allegations of malfeasance.

ACORN officials have fired some of the employees in question, while also suggesting the videotapes are not precisely what they seem. The most recent video -- from a San Bernardino ACORN office -- depicts an ACORN employee claiming to have murdered her husband.

But when the Press-Enterprise newspaper caught up with ACORN employee Tresa Kaelke, she told the newspaper she was messing with the filmmakers and making it all up.

"They were clearly playing with me," she said "I decided to shock them as much as they were shocking me."

Reports the newspaper: "Since she claimed on the video to have killed her husband, two San Bernardino police homicide detectives interviewed her at the office Tuesday. Police said they have been in contact with Kaelke's former husbands and the homicide claims do not appear accurate.

"'At this point, we can't prove that there's anything to her statement,' said San Bernardino police Sgt. Dave Dillon. 'We can't show that ever happened.'

"One of her ex-husbands, Ronald Kaelke, 66, of Newberry Springs, said he was unaware of any investigation or that his ex-wife had made any claims of murder.

"The couple divorced in 1987, but attempted to reconcile and lived together from 2002 to 2005, Ronald Kaelke said in a telephone interview. In 2007, the couple traded allegations of domestic violence and received separate restraining orders against each other, he said.

"'As far as her murdering an ex-husband, that's news to me,' Ronald Kaelke said. 'She's definitely got problems and goes off the wall sometimes.'"
Other claims made by Tresa Kaelke did not square with the newspaper's reporting.


Then there's the man who bills himself as "the Senate’s most outspoken critic of ACORN," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana.

Vitter has introduced a bill that would deny any federal funds to the group, which bills itself as the nation's largest grassroots organization serving low-income and middle-income Americans.

"After months of beating the drum and continued news reports of criminal investigations, the president and his administration are finally starting to distance themselves from ACORN. The Census dropping ACORN as a partner is a good, common sense move. Now we must go one step further and support my simple and direct amendment, which declares that no federal funds should go ACORN,” said Vitter.

The Louisiana Democratic Party, however, points out a point of potential awkwardness for the senator -- the fake prostitution ring the young conservative journalists at BigGovernment.com talked about, versus the very real ones Vitter was accused of having frequented.

Vitter, as you may recall, was named by a New Orleans bordello Madame as a client of her prostitutes. In July 2007, Vitter apologized after his telephone number showed up in the phone records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the alleged DC Madame.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said.

Vitter did not vote on Monday.

“For months, David Vitter has been leading the charge to deny federal money to ACORN, but as soon as the topic of prostitution comes up, he doesn’t even show up to work,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Spokesman Kevin Franck. 

Franck suggests, per a press release, that "Vitter may have skipped the vote to avoid calling attention to his own admission that he frequented prostitutes."

Vitter spokesman Joel Digrado says the senator missed his flight because of a scheduling error.

The Louisiana Republicam phoned other senators and urged them to support the amendment, Digrado said, adding that Vitter has forced three separate Senate votes on ACORN, including an amendment to the stimulus, an amendment to the National Service Bill and the cloture vote to overturn his hold of Census Bureau director Robert Groves.


* This post has been updated.

September 16, 2009 | Permalink | Share | User Comments (403)

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Well, ACORN doesn't just give advise. They have all the appropriate forms for people seeking housing to fill out, and they offer assistance in doing so. O'Keefe and Giles don't really have the goods unless they produce some kind of physical evidence beyond the video footage. They haven't produced any paperwork that would suggest that they were actually assisted by ACORN employees.

The ACORN employees have stated that they knew from the start the two youths were not a pimp and a prostitute. They claim that they played along with the two for fun. While this may sound absurd after seeing the videos, it actually holds more water than the claims of O'Keefe and Giles until the two release the recordings in their entirety and unedited, and/or produce physical evidence, such as housing/tax related paperwork, which would show that they actually received assistance from ACORN in their faux scheme.

People have seen 'Borat', and are becoming wise to this sort of thing. Often times Stephen Colbert's guests will attempt to out-Colbert him (usually making themselves look stupid). O'keefe himself has said he's the last person you'd take for a pimp. So you have the maker (and editor) of the videos telling you straight away that he's walking into these acorn offices looking like a gag.

I understand the respective police departments are investigating these offices/employees. O'keefe will surely be Subpoenaed for all the footage they've shot.

Keep in mind, O'keefe and Giles pulled this stunt in twenty-four different cities. Should it be revealed that he attempted to edit videos in cities where his stings were unsuccessful to make it appear as though they were, or worse: they find footage of the supposedly complicit employees telling him at the end of their meetings, anything along the lines of "Alright kids, you've had you fun, but we have work to do", O'keefe may find himself on the business end of his own investigation.

I believe this story has yet to take shape. We shall see what the coming weeks reveal.

Posted by: foxtrot | Sep 19, 2009 11:17:35 PM

shoudn't we be happy that this was bought to light. I for on cring at the thought of our tax dollors going to this kinda group. Also should we be paying to sign up people that are to dumb to sign themselfs up to vote? Are these the kinda people we want voting?

Posted by: cindy | Sep 19, 2009 12:22:24 PM

Murdering "an" ex-husband, not "the" ex-husband. Hope they do a better job looking into her background than they did looking in Dugard's backyard.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 18, 2009 2:58:59 PM

What is sad about this whole story is that the talking heads over at Fox have demonstrated unequivocally that they don't report news, they report innuendo and supposition.

If Fox did real news, if they were real journalists they would have fact-check the allegations made Tresa Kaelke before reporting them as facts. It is laughable that Beck says that the real media should fact check this story.

It is clear that Beck, Hannity, Van Sustren, OReilly and the rest of the talking heads didn't do any research before airing the video. Facts be damned.

Fox reports the facts not as they are, but as they see them and then the people who have abdicated their right to think freely watch Fox to learn what false propaganda of the day.

I'd like to thank Fox News for demonstrating Goebbels' belief that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes fact.

Posted by: J Macdonald | Sep 18, 2009 2:51:51 AM

The real shame is how the mainstream media, ie, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. tries to use this story as a way to hammer at the ones trying to show how corrupt ACORN is. Also, why doesn't the mainstream media do what they used to do, ie, go undercover and show corruption in the USA. Is it because they are all in bed with the Obama administration? YOU BET.

Posted by: D schimpf | Sep 17, 2009 11:22:01 PM

"Well once again you resort to trying to twist someone else's words as you are in a debate you can't win."

Posted by: Cryos

He does that a lot, I've noticed.

Posted by: Bridget | Sep 17, 2009 1:55:44 PM

The real problem with Acorn is its management. It is the responsibility of the manager to hire/fire employees and train volunteers/employees to fit the culture of the company. When you start seeing these types of employees, it becomes apparent that management is either negligent or endorsing this type of behavior.

Posted by: Art A | Sep 17, 2009 12:22:38 PM

"Well as I recall in this year's election there was just 1 that was proven and charged; the New Black Panther's party intimidators. However the upstanding Marc Rich pardoning DOJ head dismissed it without cause along with the Richardson pay to play case."


First Holder has not pardoned anyone nor is he in power to do so.

Second, it was a civil suit that was dropped after an injunction had been granted.

The dishonesty on the right is near pathological

Posted by: Ryan C | Sep 16, 2009 7:19:30 PM
Wow that was your non-response to this? I couldn't check this thread until now.

Well once again you resort to trying to twist someone else's words as you are in a debate you can't win.

Posted by: Cryos | Sep 17, 2009 10:23:23 AM

The videos "SEEM to show" ??? Are you kidding?

Posted by: Anne Lieberman | Sep 17, 2009 9:30:45 AM

Look at this footage. Decide. It's that simple. Does it seem that this women could possibly be leveling with Giles and O'Keefe? Either she punked 'em, or she's nuts. But don't tap dance around the point, you add oxygen to the fire. WEIGH IN, either way.

Posted by: TongueUntied | Sep 17, 2009 2:50:20 AM

ACORN has every indication of being an organized racketeering scam funded by the US government. If there ever was a case screaming for an indictment on RICO charges by a Special Prosecutor, ACORN is the biggest. Not that Marc Rich buddy Eric Holder would ever do anything so ethical. He's a little political hit-man and tout, not an AG at the DOJ.

Posted by: daveinboca | Sep 17, 2009 2:06:36 AM

Its sad when you insist on focusing on small, isolated issues being important
Posted by: Cryos

ahhhh.... important issues...
you mean like the, birthers, deathers, 10ers, fema camps, secret muslim, indoctrination of school kids... and an ever growing list of supreme inanity

Posted by: OMG | Sep 17, 2009 1:25:19 AM

ACORN has been caught on video using tax dollars to aid in the setup of a brothel, importation of underage girls and illegal aliens, lie to the IRS, lie to the police, and numerous other offenses. Caught in 5/5 offices to date.

And Jake Tapper, one of the few at ABC with a modicum of credibility left, wants to use that as a lead in to attack Vitter?

That's really pathetic.

Posted by: DaMav | Sep 17, 2009 12:50:36 AM

The truly Christian, compassionate, LEFTIST faction is again being bullied by people who really should go ahead and admit that they know better. Our future is at stake, and the conservatives just can't seem to stop raging. Give up your hate! Give in to love! We're waiting for you...

Posted by: svlad | Sep 16, 2009 9:55:47 PM

"Well as I recall in this year's election there was just 1 that was proven and charged; the New Black Panther's party intimidators. However the upstanding Marc Rich pardoning DOJ head dismissed it without cause along with the Richardson pay to play case."

To which Ryan C responds:
No, Ryan C. He didn't say "pardoned". He said dismissed.

"First Holder has not pardoned anyone nor is he in power to do so."
posted by Ryan C
No shi*, Sherlock. The guy never said Holder pardoned the new Black Panthers. He did, however, play an advisory role in the Clinton pardoning of Rich.

Second, it was a civil suit that was dropped after an injunction had been granted.

And what, exactly does that prove? Besides, Holder's DOJ dismissed the suit after Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson defaulted. They had a slam dunk case and they flushed it down the toilet.

"The dishonesty on the right is near pathological."

If the shoe fits.

Posted by: Bridget | Sep 16, 2009 8:59:35 PM

And after all that mess... that's ABC reporting? Shame on you, really :(

Posted by: a.man. | Sep 16, 2009 8:45:39 PM

Jake, take it from me, you have been out "Foxed"!

I am afraid your credibility is waning.

Posted by: Ed Taylor | Sep 16, 2009 8:34:24 PM

You could work for ACORN.

Posted by: Dan | Sep 16, 2009 8:00:54 PM

“For months, David Vitter has been leading the charge to deny federal money to ACORN, but as soon as the topic of prostitution comes up, he doesn’t even show up to work,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Spokesman Kevin Franck.
Yeah, Kevin Franck - I can see how paying a consenting adult prostitute is EXACTLY like using a child enslaved for sex. At least in a liberal's mind...

Posted by: laughoutloud | Sep 16, 2009 7:57:09 PM

In your attempts to be complete shills for the obama administration, you completely ignore the Van Jones story and Acorn until Fox has it out in the open. Your abject left wing bias is making ABC NEWS irrelevant and unwatchable. It is the duty of the Fourth Estate to keep an eye on the government. But you are completely sucking up to Obama and his lackies. Its sad and you have lost all credility and will eventually lose most of your viewers. I guess we have to go over to Fox to get real news instead of the Obama cheering section. Farewell ABC NEWS.

Posted by: Jeff S | Sep 16, 2009 7:29:46 PM

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