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Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
It turns out ACORN was a tougher nut to crack than previously thought.
In a 2010 report from Congressman Darrell Issa's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, ACORN, formerly known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, never disappear from the political realm. Instead the political group continued to thrive, just under a new name.
"ACORN affiliates in various states are also changing their names in what has been described as, 'a desperate bid to ditch the tarnished name of their parent organization and restore federal grants and other revenue streams.' In California, ACORN is now the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (“ACCE”)," the report states.
"According to the agreement, ACCE has hired former ACORN employees, purchased the ACORN database of dues-paying members, and purchased a database with “e-mail contact information for approximately 16,202 potential contributors residing in California.”
If the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment sounds familiar, it should. They were one of the main backers of San Diego's new abandoned property ordinance.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) operates from of an office in downtown Chula Vista. David Lagstein, the former ACORN spokesperson is listed as executive director on a recent lobbying disclosure.
One week after the election, on November 14, ACCE scored a victory after lobbying San Diego city councilmembers to enact a foreclosure registry that forces banks to be accountable for upkeep of vacant properties in their possession. They were also behind efforts to pass the Responsible Banking Ordinance and the Property Value Protection Ordinance.
ACORN has had a storied past in San Diego. In 2009, James O'Keefe, dressed in a Halloween-costume pimp outfit, entered an ACORN office in National City along with his accomplice Hannah Giles, in full prostitute get-up.
The couple, armed with a hidden video camera, asked worker Juan Carlos Vera for advice on smuggling prostitutes across the border. Vera allegedly played along and the hoax quickly made national headlines. Since then, new facts have been discovered that show Vera called the police during the interaction notifying them of the couple and their plans. He has since filed a lawsuit against O'Keefe and Giles.
Months later during a stakeout of ACORN's offices, local GOP operative, and private investigator, Derrick Roach found thousands of pages of sensitive documents in ACORN's dumpster a few days after the group learned they were under investigation from the California Attorney General.
To this day, local GOP honchos still praise Roach for his work in the dumpster. In a December 10 news release announcing the leadership team for the San Diego County Republican Party was this description of Roach:
"Derrick Roach of Chula Vista will continue to serve as Secretary of the committee. Roach's work helped to expose the corrupt practices of the radical left wing group ACORN in San Diego County, contributing to the group's ultimate demise."
Tony Krvaric, head of the San Diego County Republican Party, however, says he "was aware" of the new ACORN, and that "nothing has changed" with the group.
Representatives from ACCE have not responded to a request for comment.