by Bob Geary
Our story this week about ACORN's work in North Carolina contrasted its tiny budget (in this state, between $400,000 and $450,000 a year, according to state director Pat McCoy) with the "crime of the century" treatment ACORN's national operations have been getting from Fox News, other media and the Republican Party. Today we learned that ACORN's eight N.C. employees -- that's right, this dangerous organization employs all of eight people in a state of 8 million -- have been working sans paychecks for about three weeks.
McCoy told us this afternoon that the cutoff began because private fundraising had fallen fallen short, with foundations and other givers continuing to hold back expected contributions while ACORN worked to strengthen internal accounting controls in the wake of the discovery last fall that a fiscal officer embezzled $950,000 from the national office a decade ago. At first, he thought the cutoff would be short-term; then the new scandal hit, with staffers in ACORN's Baltimore office caught on videotape in a conservative sting. You probably know the rest.
He's still working, McCoy said, as are the other seven employees, either full-time or part-time. "We're still very much working," he said. They don't know when, or if, they'll be paid again, McCoy acknowledged, but he expressed some hope that it won't be long. ACORN had already shut down operations in some other "red" states -- he mentioned South Carolina and Idaho -- where it tried unsuccessfully "and probably unwisely" to establish new chapters in recent years. They were big money drains, he said.
Elsewhere, ACORN may be paring operations, McCoy said, but he doesn't know of another state where all the staffers' pay was halted.