November 12, 2008

Catholic Church drops ACORN funding

Posted: 10:25 PM ET

ACORN, the community organizing group rocked by voter registration fraud allegations, is being rocked again by the loss of a major donor.

catholic letter to acorn

catholic letter to acorn

And the group's sloppy voter registration drive in the 2008 presidential election campaign is at least partly to blame.

Citing voter fraud allegations along with embezzlement and accounting issues at ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the Catholic church announced it will sever all ties with the group. The announcement to stop all funding to various ACORN projects came at the U.S. conference of Catholic bishops in Baltimore.

Bishop Roger Morin, who chairs the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) told his fellow bishops, "We simply had too many questions and concerns to permit further CCHD funding of ACORN groups."

Bishop Morin froze all Catholic funds to ACORN in June when ACORN revealed the brother of the group's founders had embezzled nearly a million dollars from the group. The embezzlement took place years ago, but was only recently revealed to ACORN board members and donor groups.

In a letter to All Bishops, Bishop Morin said the Catholic Church would conduct its own review. That review was completed earlier this month and the church apparently was not convinced ACORN meets the standards of further funding.

"No funds were given this year, none for next year and now the stance at present is there will be no funding relationship with ACORN groups in the future," said Bishop Morin.

The Catholic Church has a long history of giving grant money to ACORN and its affiliates. Over the past decade, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has given more than $7.3 million dollars to ACORN related projects.

The CCHD gave more than a million dollars to ACORN last year, including $40-thousand dollars to the ACORN chapter in Las Vegas. That chapter was recently raided by local authorities in a voter registration fraud investigation. Among other questionable registrations, the ACORN chapter submitted registrations for members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

In a statement to CNN, ACORN's executive Director Steven Kest said his group is grateful the church's funding in the past and "We look forward to continuing discussions with CCHD officials and the bishops in the months ahead in hopes that we can continue working together on projects, which have been so important to so many in low income neighborhoods across the country."

An official with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development says there are no plans to continue any discussion with ACORN at this time. Ralph McCloud, the director of CCHD says the Catholic Church has "severed ties" with ACORN.

Marcus Hooper contributed to this report

Filed under: Drew Griffin • Special Investigations Unit

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AD   December 1st, 2008 6:09 am ET

I can't blame CCHD for dropping the ties.

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