Harshbarger Report Finds No Pattern of Illegal Conduct, Raises More Questions About Selectively Edited Videos from 'Sting' Operation

Dec 07, 2009, 13:24 ET from Service Employees International Union

SEIU's Andy Stern calls for review of unedited tapes, transcripts

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following the release of former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger's report on ACORN, Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern issued the following statement:

"Today, former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger released his report on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN) following an independent and aggressive review of the organization.

"Mr. Harshbarger deserves thanks for not only having the ability to see past the sensationalized headlines, but for recognizing and reporting on the steps that ACORN had already taken to address management weaknesses it had identified earlier.

"ACORN has for years provided essential community services, including bringing traditionally disenfranchised citizens into the democratic process. While we are concerned with the inadequacies of governance and oversight Mr. Harshbarger found in his review, ACORN itself had recognized many of these challenges and had been actively engaged in a process of increasing transparency and accountability throughout the organization. That work must continue, and ACORN should implement the recommendations outlined by Mr. Harshbarger if ACORN is to continue to serve its members and constituents.

"It is striking that despite the news coverage, Mr. Harshbarger found no pattern of illegal conduct by the staff of ACORN targeted in the 'sting' operation, even in cases that looked clear cut from the so-called undercover videos. In fact, the Harshbarger Report reveals that the tapes contained a number of discrepancies and distortions that went unreported by the media.

"What Mr. Harshbarger did find is something the media should have caught: the freelance 'sting' operation that did so much damage to ACORN's reputation last fall is deeply suspicious and deserving of increased scrutiny.

"Given the transcripts released by the videographers themselves contradict what the manipulated videos say, it is reasonable and fair that ACORN's accusers now cooperate and provide the full, unedited tapes for a complete investigation.

"For many years, ACORN has worked hard to provide a voice and hope for people who have too little. From living wage campaigns to organizing low-income communities to registering voters, ACORN has helped millions of Americans. The media and Congress, which made an ill-informed rush to judgment based on incomplete or suspect evidence, should take their time assess this report and give ACORN the impartial assessment it deserves."

With 2.2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers -- not just corporations and CEOs -- benefit from today's global economy.

Andy Stern is a member of the ACORN Advisory Council, a non-governing body convened in 2009 to provide support and guidance to ACORN's leadership.

SOURCE Service Employees International Union