AP: ACORN gives up Ohio business license, won’t return

By JULIE CARR SMYTH (AP)
Thursday, March 11, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The community organizing group ACORN has agreed to give up its Ohio business license and not return under another name, as it has in other states, under a settlement struck with a libertarian center that sued it.

U.S. District Judge Herman Weber, in Cincinnati, signed off on the deal, which settles claims brought by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law against ACORN’s voter registration practices. Other terms of the deal are confidential.

The center alleged in a lawsuit filed in 2008 that ACORN’s voter registration drives amounted to organized crime because the group turned in a pattern of fraudulent forms.

Center attorney Maurice Thompson said restricting ACORN’s ability to support or enable other groups to “do what they do” was crucial to the deal, especially in a state he characterized as “ground zero” to their voter advocacy efforts.

“It carries a great deal of significance because, in the absence of that term, ACORN could simply have shut down but reopened the next day as WALNUT or CHESTNUT or whatever and done the exact same thing,” Thompson said. “So our goal was to affect permanent change.”

In other states, including New York and California, ACORN chapters have disbanded and resumed operations under new names.

The California ACORN chapter split from the national organization in January, forming a new nonprofit called the Alliance of Californians for Community Employment, or ACCE.

In New York, where three ACORN employees were caught on video apparently advising a couple posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend to lie about her profession and launder her earnings, ACORN’s local offices disbanded and resumed operations as New York Communities for Change. Prosecutors said they found no criminal wrongdoing by the employees.

That video and a series of others filmed at ACORN offices around the country last year sparked a national scandal and helped drive the organization to near ruin.

ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said Thursday the group agreed to surrender its Ohio business license by June 1 and already has closed up shop in the state.

“For reasons unrelated to the lawsuit, ACORN was winding up its staff operations in Ohio anyway,” he said. “So there was no practical reason for us to spend time and money litigating this suit further, even though it was baseless and intended to harass us.”

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, describes itself as an advocate for low-income and minority home buyers and residents. It denied any wrongdoing in Ohio.

Whelan said offshoot groups that have formed as new nonprofits may have help from former ACORN activists but are independent entities. He said no such effort has taken place in Ohio.

“They’re new corporations, incorporated with different boards that include some people that used to be involved with ACORN but also prominent community members from labor and public life,” Whelan said. “So those really are new and different things, although a number of people who played a big role in them played a role in ACORN for a long time.”

Miller v. ACORN

In October 2008, the 1851 Center sued ACORN regarding its activities in Ohio. The action alleged ACORN engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity that amounted to organized crime due to its perpetual submission of fraudulent voter registrations in Ohio. The Center sought the dissolution of ACORN as a legal entity, the revocation of any licenses in Ohio, and an injunction against fraudulent voter registration and other illegal activities.

March 11, 2010 – ACORN Settles with 1851 Center, Folds Ohio Operation

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law achieved victory in its state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN has agreed to settle the case and will cease all Ohio activity as a result. In its settlement with the 1851 Center, ACORN agreed to surrender all of its Ohio business licenses by June 1, 2010. Further, the organization cannot support or enable any individual or organization that seeks to engage in the same type of activity.

 

 

 

March 11, 2010, Associated Press: ACORN Gives Up Ohio Business License

 

 

 

October 27, 2008: Original Complaint