Posted at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Gov. Pawlenty issued a letter to the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget telling him to stop funding to ACORN unless the state is legally obligated to provide such funding. Pawlenty said he's ordering the review after reports surfaced about alleged illegal activity from group.
The only problem is there is no state funding currently going to ACORN's Minnesota Chapter. Chris Stinson, Minnesota ACORN's political director, said ACORN has not received any state funds. He said a separate organization, ACORN Housing, received funds in the past but no longer receives state money. In 2006, ACORN also received $749,999 from a legal settlement with the state. Then Attorney General Mike Hatch, a DFLer, directed the funds to ACORN from a settlement with Capital One
Stinson, with ACORN, dubbed Pawlenty's directive as "politically motivated." Pawlenty is considered a potential candidate for president in 2012.
UPDATE: An official with Minnesota Management and Budget said $20k in state funds went to ACORN in 1996 and 1998 and $79,000 went to ACORN Housing between 10/09/2003 and 05/09/2008.
ACORN just released this statement from Sunday Alabi, a member of the Board of Directors for Minnesota ACORN:
ACORN and its affiliated organizations receive no funding from the state of Minnesota.
It really isn't fair that the Governor attack the good work we have done here in Minnesota, just because of the indefensible action of a handful of employees in other states.
I can assure you that the Minnesota chapter of ACORN is taking every step possible, including participating in our national outside audit of our staffing and training, to make sure that our frontline staff is doing everything in the most professional manner possible.
It is disappointing that the Governor is taking this easy political potshot instead of finding out the facts. I encourage him to come to look at the work that we are doing in the state:
-Minnesota ACORN fought for and Governor Pawlenty signed one of the strongest the strongest anti-predatory lending laws in the country.
-Minnesota ACORN helped tens of thousands of low income and minority Minnesotans apply to become registered to voters last year.
-Over the years, ACORN has helped thousands of Minnesotan become first time home-buyers, avoid foreclosure, to speak up for the needs of their communities.
ACORN has a long and sordid relationship with the attorney general's office. The Capital One case in 2006 was worth millions, but the AG's office agreed to settle it for $749,999 - one dollar below the amount at which a settlement would go into the general state fund. The AG's office agreed to direct the settlement to ACORN, and in return ACORN endorsed Hatch and Lori Swanson. If you go to Swanson's office you'll see that a number of former ACORN staffers work directly under her, and spend much of their time doing partisan work. I'm a liberal democrat, but I believe in ethics in government, and I've never understood why so many people are willing to turn a blind eye to the relationship between ACORN and the Minnesota attorney general's office. The state lost MILLIONS of dollars from the Capital One settlement in order to buy Lori Swanson's endorsement from ACORN.
I believe ACORN received $249,999 from the settlement, not $749,999. $250K went to Legal Aid, and $250K went to recouping litigation costs.
The story running on MPR this morning is one of the most poorly reported stories I've ever heard from MPR. The listener hears Pawlenty mouthpiece Brian McClung blathering on and on about what a horrible group ACORN is long before it's revealed that no state money even goes to ACORN--which is tagged onto the end of the story almost like an afterthought.
There's only one story here--that Tim Pawlenty is using the Governor's office to score cheap political points on false information in order to gin up his presidential run. But MPR totally missed it on the air. Too bad all your listeners can't read Polinaut instead.