Michael Gaynor
Limitations and risks of the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN sting
By Michael Gaynor
November 19, 2009

In sum, the sensational "Pimp and Pro" ACORN videos have adversely impacted ACORN, but not ACORN's radical political agenda being pursued by the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats. For that, stings by intrepid investigators who surreptitiously record will not suffice. Inside information by courageous whistleblowers who are willing to tell the whole story, not radical opportunists seeking to control ACORN themselves and covering up key parts of the story, is what is needed.

The exciting "Pimp and Pro" ACORN sting starring James O'Keefe as the Pimp and Hannah Giles as the Pro exquisitely exposed ACORN criminality, but it has not redirected the liberal media establishment to the straight path, or politically delegitimatized President Obama, or derailed the implementation of the radical agenda of ACORN, SEIU, La Raza, etc. and the appointment of their favorites to important executive and judicial positions.

Moreover, there is serious risk of criminal prosecution in states that prohibit recording without the consent of all parties, including California.

Each of the intrepid investigators seems to be concerned about that. Each of them promptly linked on his or her Facebook page to a Los Angeles Times editorial titled "Jerry Brown's 'secrets' cases" and dated November 18, 2009. That editorial opined that "California's attorney general and prospective Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Brown, is trapped in a political cage from which there will be no easy escape" as a result of the surreptitious recording at three ACORN offices in California. But the editorial concluded:

"...O'Keefe and Giles did not disclose that they were journalists — in fact, they disguised themselves as underworld figures — and entered private offices for consultations on tax matters, while secretly videotaping the proceedings. This couldn't possibly be interpreted as an on-the-record conversation with a reporter. Though we admire the filmmakers' chutzpah and think they performed a worthwhile public service, they certainly appear to have violated state law as it currently stands."

The editorial further opined that General Brown has political problem — infuriating his liberal base if he declines to prosecute and opening himself to charges of hypocrisy if he does — that "isn't of his making" and "stems from a vague and overly restrictive statute...that the Legislature should revisit next year."

As a supporter of one party consent permitting recording, I agree that the California statute is "overly restrictive" and hope that it will be reconsidered. But the statute as interpreted by the California Supreme Court in Flanagan v. Flanagan in 2002 does not seem unconstitutionally vague and that "worthwhile public service" "certainly [does] appear to have violated state law as it currently stands."

In addition to a civil suit filed in Maryland and the possibility of more civil suits and criminal prosecutions in several states, there is no assurance that ACORN has been fatally wounded. Even at sting mastermind Andrw Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, there is great concern that evil ACORN may survive.

Conclusion of "Los Angeles Robocall Proves ACORN 'Internal Review' Is a Scam," by Capitol Confidential (November 18, 2009): "ACORN's only hope to survive is to deflect public attention long enough that the videos, and the deep corruption they exposed, recede in memory. If Big Media continues to willfully ignore ACORN and its corruption, nevermind actually aid and abet their spin, ACORN may very well get away with it."

Tragically, that conclusion is correct!

ACORN is a subversive organization and a corrupt criminal enterprise that should not survive, but it "may very well," if the whole truth about it and "Big Media" does not become general public knowledge.

Capitol Confidential article:

"The robocall confirms what we have always expected: ACORN's commitment to an 'internal review' is a scam meant to deflect attention from its many problems. Even before ACORN has publicly released the results of its 'review,' they have already sued to have their federal funding reinstated. The robocall and federal suit reveal how ACORN acts when it thinks no one is paying attention.

"In the light of day, ACORN's spin machine jockeys to get just enough favorable media coverage to survive any particular story or news cycle. It will distort and lie, confident that Big Media will never follow-up nor hold the organization accountable for its past statement. The Ombudsman of the New York Times even had to admit that one of the paper's reporters had, on his own initiative, edited one of Bertha Lewis' statements to cover-up the fact that she had lied. After videos of ACORN Baltimore and DC were released, Lewis put out a statement claiming that James and Hannah were thrown out of ACORN's New York office, among other locations. After a video of ACORN New York was released however, the Times reporter edited New York out of any further references to Lewis' statement."

Perhaps BigGovernment will commiserate with Heather Heidelbaugh, first vice president of the Republican National Lawyers Association. In October 2008 Ms. Heidelbaugh used an ex-radical and former ACORN insider, whistleblower Anita MonCrief, as a witness in a Pennsylvania ACORN case to expose ACORN. Last March Ms. Heidelbaugh testified as to the fruits of her investigation before a House Judiciary subcommittee last March and then appearance twice on "The O'Reilly Factor" to call attention to her testimony.

A month before testifying, Ms. Heidelbaugh had sourced an excellent, but not generally known, article by Rick Pedraza titled "Lawyers: ACORN Destroying American Elections" and dated February 27, 2009.

Heidelbaugh wisely focused on ACORN's political corruption, not ACORN willingness to help prostitutes do business, perpetrate bank fraud and cheat on taxes.


"Activist group ACORN is subverting America's election system by using fraud and corruption to mislead poor, minority communities, and the media is complicit in the effort, an organization of Republican lawyers claims.

"'[ACORN's] antics include embezzlement, cover-ups, document destruction, misuse of taxpayer funds for political purposes, voter fraud, campaign finance violations, and non-profits abuse,' said Heather Heidelbaugh....

"'Most of us think ACORN is all about trying to conduct massive voter register drives, but that's just a ruse,' Heidelbaugh said as part of a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. 'What ACORN is trying to do is change the very core of what America is. And they're using poor people and people of color to do it.'"

Ms. Heidelbaugh was right about media complicity as well as ACORN corruption.

Pedraza: "...ACORN's track record of election fraud...is concerning considering the group is the largest grass roots organization in America with 170 affiliated organizations. Despite a series of complaints of voter registration fraud by ACORN representatives, however, the mainstream media is reluctant to report on the group's transgressions, RNLA officials say."

The "Pimp and Pro" ACORN story that broke last September showed that "mainstream media" reluctance to be extreme, even though the story involved a fake prostitution business and a young beauty who played a scantily clad fake prostitute for both her visits to ACORN offices and the B roll videotaping also included in the ACORN videos.

Fox News covered that story extensively and showed the videotapes repeatedly, but other major media did not "bite" on the story until there were major consequences — ACORN being disconnected from the United States Census and defunded by the United States Congress.

"Mainstream media" should have used the "Pimp and Pro" ACORN story to focus public attention on ACORN political corruption, but the bulk of the major media did not want to go there and even Fox News' Bill O'Reilly chose to back away instead of follow up when Ms. MonCrief declared on "The O'Reilly Factor" last June that ACORN had functioned for years as "an unofficial arm of the Democratic Party."

Pedraza on Ms. Heidelbaugh's case and the contemptible media:

"Heidelbaugh, who in October of 2008 tried a preliminary case on behalf of the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee alleging voter fraud, misrepresentation, violation of the equal protection code and due process by ACORN, claims the New York Times refused to go with a story brought to the court about a woman who testified in court about Barack Obama's link to ACORN.

"'If somebody testifies in court, under oath, and tells the truth and has evidence, certainly then the truth will come out,' Heidelbaugh surmised. She then brought the court transcript to the CNN investigative reporter covering the court case.

"'I was interviewed by a CNN reporter with a camera at the trial. It [the story] never got out,' Heidelbaugh said. 'I was later told, "We're not going with this story; it's a game-changer." ABC World News tonight? Same story. This is the failure of our democracy. This is the failure of the mass media to enforce our First Amendment.'"

Now, with Obama in the White House and Democrats with big majorities in both houses of the United States Congress, even Fox News seems wary of telling the whole story of ACORN political corruption.

Heidelbaugh presented some of the available evidence in her case.

Pedraza: "Heidelbaugh said the Obama campaign provided a spreadsheet listing its maxed-out donors to ACORN to raise funds, which was admitted into evidence and was released to every media outlet in Pennsylvania, the Associated Press, and CNN."

Actually, the Obama campaign provided its entire 2d quarter 2007 donor list, Ms. MonCrief then prepared the maxed out list and Ms. MonCrief also worked with Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Democratic National Committee donor lists (but no Republican list) at ACORN affiliate Project Vote.

Just as The New York Times made its national correspondent Stephanie Strom "stand down" on an Obama/ACORN expose before Election Day 2008, CNN bailed on Ms. Heidelbaugh.

Pedraza: "After two days of working with the news outlets, the investigative reporter for CNN said, 'We're shutting the story down,' simply because the Obama campaign called the court house and said, 'We did not provide that.' So they killed the story."

The "Pimp and Pro" ACORN story could not be "killed," but the bulk of the major media have limited coverage and successfully kept public attention away from the Obama presidential campaign's illicit relationship with ACORN, Obama's lies about his relationship with ACORN and ACORN's status as an unofficial arm of the Democrat Party.

In sum, the sensational "Pimp and Pro" ACORN videos have adversely impacted ACORN, but not ACORN's radical political agenda being pursued by the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats. For that, stings by intrepid investigators who surreptitiously record will not suffice. Inside information by courageous whistleblowers who are willing to tell the whole story, not radical, opportunistic ACORNians seeking to control ACORN themselves and covering up key parts of the story, is what is needed.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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