Two more ACORN officials were fired Friday after a second video surfaced showing staffers in the community organizers’ Washington office offering to help a man and woman posing as a pimp and prostitute acquire illegal home loans that would help them set up a brothel.
The firings came less than 24 hours after another pair of ACORN officials from the group’s Baltimore office were canned for instructing the “pimp” and “prostitute” how to falsify tax forms and seek illegal benefits for 13 “very young” girls from El Salvador that pair said they wanted to import to work as child prostitutes.
Both of the encounters were videotaped on a hidden camera wielded by 25-year-old independent filmmaker James O’Keefe, posing as the pimp — tapes that have ignited calls for investigations of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
The group’s leaders said Friday they were “appalled and angry” at what their staffers had done, but insisted the videos were part of a political “smear” campaign and not representative of the institution as a whole.
“But that does not excuse the behavior of the employees,” wrote ACORN’s president Alton Bennet and executive director Mike Shea. “We have fired them and are initiating an internal review of practices and reminding all staff of their obligation to uphold the highest legal and ethical standards.”
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., called for a hearing to investigate ACORN’s tax filing assistance programs following the release of the videos he said suggested multiple incidents of tax fraud.
“In light of the apparent flagrant and willful attempts to suborn tax fraud, I … (am seeking) a hearing of the Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee as soon as practicable to investigate ACORN’s activities,” he said Friday.
O’Keefe, the filmmaker, was accompanied by 20-year-old Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute. On a videotape of their visit to ACORN’s Washington’s office, they are seen receiving guidance to establish the woman as the sole proprietor of a bogus company to mask the nature of her business.
“She’s not going to put on (the loan application) that she’s doing prostitution … she doesn’t have to,” a now-fired ACORN staffer says. “You don’t have to sit back and tell people what you do.”
ACORN Officials Videotaped Telling ‘Pimp,’ ‘Prostitute’ How to Lie to IRS
The ACORN staffer is heard suggesting that O’Keefe can purchase a house, and as the landlord, if he is ever questioned by authorities, he can say he was unaware of the illegal business going on inside.
“[W]hen the police ask you, (tell them) you don’t know where (the money is) coming from,” the staffer said. “We are looking out for you.”
The ACORN employee later suggests that O’Keefe, who said he had a budding political career, not linger at the house in case people “put the dots together” and leave him “smeared and tarnished” by his association with his prostitute girlfriend. She should keep her business “low key,” the employee continued, saying “You have neighbors and they see stuff. Don’t think that people won’t get on the telephone and call Fox.”
• STORY: ACORN Officials Videotaped Telling ‘Pimp,’ ‘Prostitute’ How to Lie to IRS
One day before the Washington video was shot, O’Keefe and Giles sought help from ACORN workers in Baltimore, who told the pair how to falsify tax forms and seek illegal benefits for 13 “very young” girls from El Salvador that they said they said they wanted to import as prostitutes.
As he did in the taping in Baltimore, O’Keefe told the Washington officers that he had plans to bring as many as 10 women from El Salvador to work as prostitutes in Giles’ “business.”
“There’s like 10 girls,” O’Keefe says. “There’s ten El Salvodoreans.”
The ACORN staffer replies, “I understand what you are saying.”
ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — calls itself a network of families “working together for social justice and stronger communities,” according to its Web site.
The organization has been accused by conservatives and Republicans of committing fraud in voter registration drives around the country, and reaction to the videotape came swiftly after its release on Thursday.
“Taxpayers should be outraged that their money has gone to an organization that, in addition to facing charges of voter fraud and tax violations, is willing to facilitate prostitution,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
“As this video confirms, ACORN continues to operate as a criminal enterprise.”
The first videotape, made in the Baltimore offices of ACORN, was made public Thursday on the political blog BigGovernment.com. That night, after portions of the video were aired throughout the day on FOX News, the group fired the two women who assisted O’Keefe and Giles in Baltimore.
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