Is ACORN operating in Maryland illegally?

Last week, when undercover journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles released video of staffers at the Baltimore office of ACORN offering advice on how to evade taxes and hide a child-prostitution ring, the City State’s Attorney responded by threatening to prosecute … O’Keefe and Giles. Before Patricia Jessamy attacks the messengers, she might want to review ACORN’s records. Big Government reports that ACORN forfeited their registrations in 2006 and 2008, and have no legal basis for operating in the state of Maryland:

Last week, we saw some pretty disturbing activities revealed in the undercover footage from ACORN Housing’s Baltimore office. By any measure of conduct, the actions of ACORN’s employees should never have happened. It turns out the actions shouldn’t have happened for another, very simple, reason: ACORN can’t legally operate in the state of Maryland.

According to the following documents, ACORN, Inc.–the parent organization of all things ACORN–forfeited its corporate charter in Maryland in 2006. ACORN Housing forfeited its corporate charter in 2008. Any ACORN office in the state of Maryland is potentially operating illegally.

Here are the certifications from Maryland showing that the state does not consider them to be incorporated in good standing:


ACORN Illegally Operating in Maryland

In my previous work as a call center manager, I can attest from personal experience that Maryland usually enforces its licensing and registration requirements very, very strictly. Compliance failures resulted in stinging fines, and on occasion with threats to block business in the state. I can’t think of a state with tougher compliance laws, with the possible exception of Virginia. We practically built our compliance group just for those two states.

With that in mind, ACORN’s ability to maintain its operations without valid registration — if indeed that’s what happened here — should get considerable scrutiny. Were their operations merely overlooked, or was there something more deliberate in keeping compliance enforcement off of their backs? Could it be because partisan hacks like Jessamy are more interested in protecting their political allies than actually enforcing the law?

Update: I tweaked the language to be more accurate; we’re talking about registrations and not licenses in this case.