ACORN Housing released a video on YouTube, in which an employee from the housing counseling agency’s Philadelphia office describes an alleged encounter with filmmaker James O’Keefe. ACORN — The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now — has come under fire after O’Keefe released a series of online videos he said he filmed using undercover cameras while posing as a pimp. The videos appear to show ACORN Housing employees telling O’Keefe and an associate how to falsify Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents and obtain a mortgage to open a brothel. ACORN Housing’s video response comes near the end of a week of press coverage. Earlier this week, the Senate voted to block ACORN and its subsidiaries from receiving federal funds in a pending appropriations bill. In the video released Thursday, ACORN Housing office director Katherine Conway Russell said O’Keefe came to the group’s Philadelphia office in July. “After asking several general questions, he [O’Keefe] then began to veer off into suspicious territory,” Russell said. “Unlike the videos that he has been showing on the Internet, we refused to help him and called the police and filed this report.” On two occasions during the three-minute video, Russell holds up a document she said is a police report her office filed during the alleged incident with O’Keefe. The video is available to view below. In a statement, ACORN Housing said its evaluating its policies and procedures in light of the incident and has suspended intake classes for first-time homebuyers until all housing counseling staff have been received additional training. A quality control team is in the process of visiting all ACORN Housing offices to ensure the retraining is implemented. An e-mail to O’Keefe seeking comment was not immediately returned at the time this story was published. Write to Austin Kilgore.
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