New York City freezes ACORN funds, Cuomo launches probe

The media may be trying as hard as possible to ignore the series of undercover videos taken at ACORN offices around the nation, but politicians don’t have that luxury.  Even in New York, both state and city officials have reacted to voter outrage over the actions of ACORN staffers offering advice on hiding tax evasion and child prostitution, especially since these offices run in part on taxpayer money.  The New York Post reports that the city council in NYC have suspended payments to ACORN pending further investigation, and that Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo has launched an investigation (via JWF):

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo yesterday launched an investigation into pork-barrel grants given to ACORN by state lawmakers, as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn froze all city funding earmarked for the scandal-scared community-activism organization.

The actions by the Democratic officials followed release of a shocking undercover video that showed employees at a Brooklyn ACORN office giving illicit financial advice to activists posing as a pimp and prostitute who wanted to start a brothel. …

On Monday, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to block federal funding to the community group, while Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes opened an investigation into the local office in response to a report in The Post.

A spokesman for Cuomo said the attorney general would seek to make sure pork-barrel grants directed to ACORN by state lawmakers were spent on tax-preparation and loan-counseling services, as intended.

Cuomo wants to replace David Paterson as the Democratic candidate for governor, which makes this a rather interesting scenario.  Democrats used ACORN for their GOTV efforts in 2008 and before, and presumably Cuomo would like to have that kind of effort for his primary campaign, but it doesn’t look like he’d need it to beat Paterson.  He’ll need ACORN to win a general election against Rudy Giuliani, if the former mayor decides to run, though.  How tough will Cuomo get if Rudy tosses his hat into the ring?

That support might mean even more for the City Council, which can’t run on name recognition.  That’s the level where “community organizers” have the most impact.  Freezing ACORN’s funds seems like a risky move for Quinn, but a gutsy one, especially since the media has hardly blanketed the city with coverage of the scandal.  The New York Times finally got around to reporting it today, focusing mainly on the partisanship rather than the scandalous behavior uncovered in the videos.

Will other states like Maryland and California follow suit?  Will they do what Congress should be doing with federal funds for ACORN?