Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently has been captivated by recent news stories about a conservative filmmaker who exposed misdeeds at ACORN, the national organization that serves low-income residents and has been involved in controversial efforts to register Democratic voters.
The Republican governor sent a brief memo Wednesday to Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown asking him to investigate ACORN's activities in San Bernardino. Two conservative activists have posted videos of their visits to ACORN offices around the country in which they posed as a prostitute and a pimp seeking advice.
In San Bernardino's ACORN office, a volunteer who claims to be a former prostitute is shown offering advice to the two activists on how to set up a brothel using underage girls from El Salvador. She tells them that they would be breaking various laws, but also explains ways to get around those laws. At one point, she claims to have connections to various Democratic lawmakers in the state Legislature and Congress.
ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said in statements over the last week that the organization had fired the workers shown in the videos and that their actions were "indefensible." But she also suggested that the filmmaker, James O'Keefe, had been turned away by other ACORN offices and that he continued targeting the organization until he obtained the responses that he wanted.
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Schwarzenegger asked Brown to launch a "full investigation" into the activities in San Bernardino. His spokesman, Aaron McLear, said the governor wants to find out whether the organization has engaged in criminal activity.
"Over the past few days, I have seen a series of news stories regarding the ACORN organization that have concerned me greatly," Schwarzenegger wrote. "As you may be aware, the most recent report has come out of San Bernardino. Given this, I believe it is appropriate that your office launch a full investigation into ACORN's activities in California. My administration stands ready to assist in any way necessary."
Brown's office did not have an immediate response.
The U.S. Senate voted 83-7 this week to block Department of Housing and Urban Development funds from going to ACORN. State Housing and Community Development spokeswoman Jennifer Sweeney said the group has received no bond funds, federal dollars or state general fund money through the state agency since at least 2002, as far back as her records go.