On the day when inner-city service organization Acorn shut its doors, State Attorney General Jerry Brown announced he has concluded that the group "committed no violation of criminal laws" but that it might have contributed to alleged voter registration fraud in San Diego.
Following last year's pimp-and-ho video sting by conservative activist James O'Keefe, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Brown to investigate the group, which had offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and elsewhere across the nation. In a seemingly contradictory statement issued Thursday, Brown said that while the nonprofit did nothing criminal, his office "uncovered 'likely violations' of state law."
Acorn, once represented by President Barack Obama many years ago when he was an attorney, has long been a target of conservatives because its inner-city voter-registration drives often benefited the Democratic Party.
It came under fire last year following the video stings in which O'Keefe appeared to pose as a pimp and, with student Hannah Miles acting as a prostitute, asked various Acorn offices for help getting his sex business off the ground. In some cases, including his visit to the L.A. office, help was offered. While a congressional inquiry cleared the group of any wrongdoing, it was stripped of nearly all its federal funding sources following the stings -- forcing it to close up shop nationwide Thursday.
While uncovering some serious allegations (voter-registration fraud, dumping personal information, failing to file a tax return, "sloppiness in its handling of charitable assets") Brown was very skeptical and almost cynical about O'Keefe's operation. (Brown said he has referred those instances of possible violations on the part of Acorn operatives to other law enforcement agencies for further investigation).
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Brown called the scandal's resulting videos, posted on YouTube, "severely edited." Images of O'Keefe dressed like a pimp were edited in, Brown said; he had dressed in business attire and never claimed to be a pimp when visiting Acorn, according to the A.G.
"O'Keefe was dressed as a 1970s Superfly pimp, but in his actual taped sessions with ACORN workers, he was dressed in a shirt and tie, presented himself as a law student, and said he planned to use the prostitution proceeds to run for Congress," Brown stated.
"... The evidence illustrates," Brown said, "that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor."
Brown posted raw video and audio evidence at the A.G.'s site.