California ACORN Chapter Seceding from National Organization

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mark Wilson/Getty Images
    Steve Kest, Executive Director of ACORN, talks to a reporter after a news conference October 29, 2008 in Washington, DC. ACORN announced a number of law suits intended to combat voter supression around the country.

    The 48,000-member strong California chapter of ACORN is seceding from the scandal-tainted national organization and forming its own group to advocate for the poor, the group announced Wednesday.

    Amy Schur, who will be executive director of the newly formed Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, praised ACORN's new national leadership "and the significant organization and governance improvements they have made."

    "Nevertheless, those of us who have been working with ACORN in California believe that we can't wait any longer to be in full control over our destiny," she said.

    Schur said her new group would work to organize and empower low-income communities and seek key policy changes to break "the cycle of continuous fiscal crisis in the state of California..."

    ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- advocates for higher minimum wages, access to affordable housing and increased voter registration in low-income communities. The California branch had 13 offices, including four in the Southland -- in downtown L.A., Van Nuys, Long Beach and Santa Ana.

    The California secession follows by four months a decision by Congress to cut federal funding for ACORN.

    The organization had previously been accused of voter registration in several states, but its serious public opinion skid began after two conservative undercover activists posing as a pimp and prostitute released secretly recorded videotapes in which they appear to receive advice on tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution from ACORN employees.

    Although a federal judge ruled in December that the Congressional funding cut was unconstitutional, the organization has remained tarnished nonetheless.