The Census Bureau late this afternoon “severed” its relationship with the non-profit housing and grassroots community organizing group ACORN for the 2010 Census.
ACORN – the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now – bills itself as “the nation's largest community organization of low and moderate income families.”
Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said officials in the bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce, had been concerned with news reports about ACORN for awhile and “had been monitoring them.”
Buckner said recent videotapes -- showing a young man and young woman pretending to be a pimp and prostitute, declaring themselves such and apparently able to secure the help of ACORN employees in Washington D.C., and Baltimore, in obtaining housing – was “the tipping point.”
It was “cumulative,” Buckner said, “but certainly the recent activity didn’t help.”
In a letter to ACORN President Maude Hurd , Census Bureau director Robert Groves wrote that, while “not decisive factors in this decision, recent events concerning several local offices of ACORN have added to the worsening negative perceptions of ACORN and its affiliation with our partnership efforts.”
Groves wrote that the Census Bureau no longer has “confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed” through ACORN’s many local offices.
“Their affiliation caused sufficient concern with the general public,” said Buckner, so that ACORN outreach on behalf of the Census would be “a distraction from our mission, and would maybe even be a discouragement” for participation.
ACORN encouraged some minority and poor populations to participate in the Census, Buckner said, telling them it was “important to participate in and safe to participate in.”
There’s a “correlation” between those who are poor and those “mistrustful of government,” he said. But he said the Census Bureau officials are confident they can reach those populations with their 80,000 other partners.