ACORN hard to find in NC

September 23, 2009 6:06:03 AM PDT
The community organizing group called ACORN is under fire after after some of its employees were captured on hidden camera allegedly giving questionable advice to a prostitute and pimp. There have also been allegations of voter fraud during the last national election. So what does ACORN do in North Carolina these days?

When Eyewitness News started digging into the local ACORN offices, no one was answering the phone and e-mails were sent back, which begged the question does ACORN still exist in North Carolina?

At the organization's Hillsborough Street office in Raleigh, a woman from another office in the building said employees had been laid off. She said they hadn't seen anyone in a couple of weeks.

Eyewitness News was able to reach the director of the local organization and he agreed to talk from their office in Durham.

He talked about the hidden camera conversations between ACORN employees in Baltimore and conservative activists posing as a prostitute and pimp that led to Congress voting to cut funding to ACORN last week. The incident may now lead to a federal probe of the organization.

"We were appalled by what we saw," ACORN North Carolina Head Organizer Pat McCoy said. "We certainly were shocked and condemn what we saw there as much as any of our harshest critics."

McCoy said nothing like that has happened in North Carolina and the only controversy here has been a few temp workers caught up in voter registration fraud. A discovery he said they made and reported.

So Eyewitness News asked him why the local organization was so hard to find now?

"We've had to lay off our staff recently due to a number of problems before the situation arose," McCoy said. "Obviously the situation is not going to help us in any way to get back to where we want to be."

He said last month he had to lay off all eight full time ACORN employees across the state including himself.

McCoy said the four chapters of ACORN in North Carolina do not get money from the federal or state government. He said they are funded by membership dues, supporters and national foundations. Most of which have been hit by the recession.

And an overwhelming majority of Congress voted to cut funding to the national ACORN organization just last week as well.

The state's Republican Party said it supports the move.

"I think it's an outrage that they're getting or have gotten tens of millions in federal funds and countless millions more in state and local dollars," NC Republican Party Chair Tom Fetzer said. "So I think it's time to turn off the faucet."

However, Democratic Congressman David Price who represents most of the Triangle, voted against the bill. He basically called the move political shenanigans.

"I decided I didn't want to be a part of that. I do want to see ACORN brought to account as much as anybody does but this is not the way to do it, no due process, no examination even of the evidence," Price said.

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