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Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger seeks state probe of ACORN (Updated)

September 16, 2009 |  1:48 pm

(UPDATE: 4:48 p.m. California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a growing chorus of officials today and called on the state's attorney general to launch an investigation into ACORN due to the latest charges of illegal activity by the group, this time in San Bernardino, Calif.

His letter:

Over the past few days, I have seen a series of news stories regarding the ACORN organization that have concerned me greatly. As you may be aware, the most recent report has come out of San Bernardino. 

Given this, I believe it is appropriate that your office launch a full investigation into ACORN’s activities in California. My administration stands ready to assist in any way necessary.

No immediate response from the office of Jerry Brown, a Democrat who used to be governor and would like to return to that office in next year's elections.)

When Barack Obama entered the White House with the idea of moving politics from the nonfunctional, confrontational style that marks Washington to a different, bipartisan approach, he didn’t count on a resurgent conservative movement. After a summer of attacking Obama’s healthcare plans and forcing Obama appointee Van Jones to quit his post as an advisor on green jobs over crude remarks and 9/11 conspiracy beliefs, conservatives, their media allies and a vibrant community of bloggers have turned their attention to ACORN.

The Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now is a national group that....

... helps the poor get housing help from the government and has sponsored voter registration drives that have been seen by conservatives to benefit Democrats.

The latest attack on ACORN is an undercover video by James O’Keefe, who with friend Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and a prostitute seeking information on how to cheat the government in securing housing loans for a brothel and how to avoid tax laws for funneling sex money into a fictitious congressional campaign.

For those keeping track, O’Keefe was also part of another sting, this one directed at Planned Parenthood. As The Times reported, in that one a woman posed as an underage pregnant girl seeking an abortion.

Using a hidden camera, the filmmaker also met with workers at ACORN’s Baltimore and Washington offices. Four employees have been dismissed and ACORN, responding to the video from the San Bernardino office, has accused O’Keefe of “lies and manipulations” in the films’ editing. The group has threatened legal action, prompting O’Keefe to respond on Fox News: “Bring it on.”

The latest pimp-and-prostitute videos drew the expected response from the conservative media, including Glenn Beck, who stepped up their charges that corruption was flagrant and that the mainstream media was ignoring it because of a liberal bias. (See video below.)

But it also brought official response as well, threatening ACORN’s funding and standing with the government. The Senate voted this week to block the Housing and Urban Development Department from giving grants to ACORN following a measure introduced by Republicans.

The Census Bureau recently severed its ties with ACORN as director Robert Groves sought avoid problems with the 2010 count.

Animosity to ACORN on the right is nothing new. GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain unsuccessfully tried to link opponent Obama to allegations of voter fraud. Obama, who has praised his time as a community organizer, represented ACORN in a 1995 lawsuit and worked briefly for Project Vote, a voter registration effort that partnered with ACORN.

If attacking ACORN has been staple of conservatives for a while, the context is new, part of the growing attacks on Obama for being too liberal. They see Obama pushing a corrupt agenda of big government and attacks on individual rights like carrying a gun.

ACORN has become another seed that they hope will grow into an oak that overshadows an administration they dislike.

– Michael Muskal

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