Pawlenty wants to prevent ACORN from getting state money

Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to ensure no state money goes to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now unless the funding is legally obligated.

ACORN is under scrutiny after employees were caught on camera appearing to advise a couple posing as a prostitute and a pimp to lie to get housing help.

An official with the Minnesota Management and Budget department says ACORN and a separate group, ACORN Housing, received $109,000 in state funds between 1996 and 2008. He said no state funds currently go to either of the groups.

Chris Stinson, a spokesman for ACORN's Minnesota chapter, said he's puzzled by Gov. Pawlenty's directive to halt funds to his group, since ACORN currently doesn't receive any state funds.

"The fact that we're receiving no money and [Pawlenty] issued an announcement that he's cutting off funding that doesn't exist, I think is a politically motivated move," Stinson said.

Pawlenty, who is a potential candidate for president in 2012, is reportedly the first governor to take such action. ACORN has been under fire after reports found that ACORN employees in other states engaged in potentially illegal activity.

Pawlenty's spokesman Brian McClung said the governor is concerned about the allegations against ACORN.

"When you see news reports that ACORN has staff people who are advising people how to avoid paying taxes, who are advising people how to avoid illegal activities, it just seems like good common sense to say that 'let's make sure that the state of Minnesota is not funding an organization or involved in an organization that has that kind of track record,'" he said.

Some Republicans are urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate ACORN. The U.S. Senate voted Monday to block the Housing and Urban Development Department from giving grants to ACORN, and the Census Bureau last week severed its ties with the group for the 2010 national head-count.

(The Associate Press contributed to this report.)

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.