September 11, 2009
Dear Mr. Rosenstein:
As you may be aware, a video was released yesterday appearing to show employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Baltimore, Maryland instructing a purported prostitute and pimp in techniques and methods by which the two can engage in apparent criminal activity while maintaining a false front of legality. This activity appears to be centered on obtaining housing for what appears to be significant criminal activity, possibly including tax evasion, prostitution, and trafficking in the human sex trade with minors from abroad. A second video, similar in nature apparently from the Washington, D.C. office of ACORN emerged on national media today. There may be emerging a disturbing pattern of conduct in these housing assistance arms of ACORN’s regional offices. If true, these activities are very concerning considering the fact that a subsidiary of ACORN, ACORN Housing Corporation, is even listed as a housing foreclosure counseling resource on the official State of Maryland Office of the Attorney General’s consumer protection program web site. ACORN Housing Corporation is also listed as a housing foreclosure counseling resource on one of Governor Martin O’Malley’s official state funded web sites at http://www.mdhope.org.
It is imperative that a formal investigation be launched immediately by your office into the activities apparently undertaken by ACORN and its employees in this case, and to determine if laws have been broken and if there are other such cases as yet undiscovered. The video alone appears to provide evidence that ACORN’s employees seem to have engaged in acts of potential criminal conspiracy, by freely aiding two persons apparently believed by the employees to be planning the establishment of a brothel, specializing in the trafficking and abusive manipulation of minor girls illegally brought to the US. These persons appeared to have asked for, and appeared to have received, advice on how to engage in racketeering, fraud, and the systematic sexual abuse of children. The actions of these particular employees seem to be clearly captured on video which was subsequently released to the public. As a result of the justifiable public outcry, newspaper accounts report that these specific employees were terminated from employment with ACORN. However, neither ACORN representative in the video appeared to show any compunction about offering the advice and aid, even after they were made aware of the nature of the proposed “business”. Therefore, it seems reasonable to infer that there may be other instances of similar advice having been provided to genuine aspiring criminals.
As if the above activities weren’t enough on their own, ACORN has been the recipient in the past of multiple grants of public funds. Therefore, further investigation is required to determine what, if any, taxpayer funds have been distributed to ACORN that may have been misused. Taxpayer dollars meant to directly support community development and leadership programs may have been, instead, used to indirectly support the commercial sexual exploitation of children through apparently illicit enterprises. The manner in which ACORN receives its public funds is circuitous and confusing at best and a veritable Gordian knot at worst. There is little if any transparency with respect to taxpayer funds, either federal or state or local, provided to ACORN or its affiliate organizations. Without a directed effort and investigation, it may be impossible to determine the nature and source of the funding that supported the activities described above.
The law-abiding citizens of Maryland have a vested interest in ensuring that not only are so-called altruistic organizations not conspiring in criminal activity, but moreover, that their tax dollars are not being distributed in such a manner as to support it. Additionally, we should fully expect and be confident that tax exempt non-profit organizations are not suborning criminal activities in our state. These video releases, if accurate, give us serious concern that this is not so. We consider these video releases to be of a very serious nature deserving a full and thorough formal investigation and report to the citizens of Maryland. As the representatives of those citizens, we call upon you to put in place the full measure of your authority to determine the nature and extent of the activities engaged in by ACORN and its employees, and to act accordingly with the full force of law.
Anthony J. O’Donnell Christopher B. Shank
House Minority Leader House Minority Whip