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Dave Schultheis tries to grow ACORN scandal in Colorado

Senator Dave Schultheis doesn't do anything by half measures -- which is why he's a multiple-time Shmuck of the Week, as opposed to being a single termer. (Watch out, Brandon Marshall.) Still, he's a sharp enough operator to understand that national stories can still be used to damage local politicians. Note the current brouhaha over a video showing an Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) employee advising a couple disguised as a pimp and a prostitute how to commit fraud, which has prompted legislators on both sides of the aisle to block federal funding for the group even from bills that might not have contained any in the first place. Schultheis doesn't know if Colorado is giving ACORN any money, but he's written a letter urging Democratic Governor Bill Ritter to find out, and to make whatever information he uncovers public. If he submits to Schultheis' demands, Ritter will look as if he's kowtowing to right-wing zealots -- but if he doesn't, he could seem to be putting partisanship over fiscal responsibility. That makes the missive an effective tactic from an official who's better known in these parts for shmuckiness. Read it below:

Sept. 17, 2009

The Honorable Bill Ritter Colorado State Capitol Denver, CO 80203

Dear Gov. Ritter,

Many Coloradans no doubt were shocked and disgusted by recent news reports that the national "community-organizing" group ACORN had attempted to aid and abet underage prostitution when approached by undercover operatives at several ACORN offices around the country. The videos of the encounters, aired on a national news network, graphically illustrated the corruption that seems to infest ACORN -- long a recipient of federal funds and an organizer of voter-registration drives

It came as no surprise that the U>S. Senate voted overwhelmingly this week to block the Obama administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development from disbursing any more grants to ACORN, and at least one federal lawmaker is now calling for a Justice Department investigation.

Governor, I trust that you share my concern that ACORN employees may be helping propagate and cover up yet other criminal activities while receiving taxpayer funding. I am calling on your administration to help assure Colorado taxpayers that none of their tax dollars are funding such activities. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has taken similar steps in Minnesota. While at least one media account quoted an ACORN representative in our state as saying his chapter receives no federal or state funding, the entire organization's credibility is obviously in doubt at this point. Considering how ACORN -- formally known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- functions as a network, the ACORN rep in question might not even know where all ACORN-affiliated groups in our state get their funding.

That is why I am asking you to verify for the public which if any of your Cabinet agencies may have disbursed public funds to any ACORN-related entities. In the wake of the appalling revelations about ACORN, Coloradans deserve to know if their own state government has been tarnished by this scandal.

Sincerely,

Sen. Dave Schultheis

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts