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Officials say ACORN has 1 state contract
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Georgia leaders say they are checking state contracts to make sure no state funds are going to the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now or its affiliates.

Last week, Gov. Sonny Perdue issued an order blocking state agencies from doing business with the community organizing group, which recently has come under fire. Perdue’s order Thursday also calls for a review of any existing contracts with the group.

ACORN has been scrutinized since a hidden-camera story alleged wrongdoing by some group employees in other states.

ACORN officials say they have ordered an independent investigation after its employees were caught on camera appearing to advise a couple posing as a prostitute and pimp in Baltimore to lie about the woman’s profession to get housing help.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, and other members of the General Assembly have called on all state, city and local governments and authorities to review contracts to ensure the taxpayers that their money is not going to ACORN or its affiliates, according to a news release from the Senate press office.

At least one contract issued through the Georgia Department of Human Services has been awarded to ACORN, the news release stated.

The $104,000 contract used federal food stamp program funds and private foundation dollars to encourage people who earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level to use food stamps.

The contract uses no state funds and expires Sept. 30. DHS will not renew this contract.

State Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, said the group’s run-ins with controversy and allegations of voter fraud motivated him to help pass a bill this year that requires a citizen to provide proof of citizenship before registering to vote.

"At that time, I was not aware of some of the egregious offenses that we’re aware of now with ACORN, but we were aware of the fact that they were just going around registering anybody to vote without checking into backgrounds," Mills said. "So they’ve only validated the need for us to pass that bill."

"... Fraud in our voting system cannot and must not be tolerated, period."

Other members of the local delegation felt similarly. State Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, said he does not imagine that ACORN will have a chance at any future contracts with Georgia agencies.

"Not as long as the conservatives and the Republicans are in charge," Rogers said. "I can probably say that if there’s any conservative Democrats there, they don’t want it, either."

ACORN is a group that has largely been tied to left-leaning Democrats. The group and President Barack Obama long have been familiar with each other.

Obama helped represent ACORN in a successful 1995 lawsuit against the state of Illinois that forced enactment of the "motor-voter law," making it easier for people to register vote.

ACORN’s political action committee endorsed Obama for president and the Obama campaign gave an ACORN subsidiary $832,000 for get-out-the-vote activities.

"I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career," Obama told ACORN leaders in November 2007, according to a posting on Obama’s campaign Web site at the time. "Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work."

Pro-Democratic groups, including unions, paid branches and affiliates of ACORN for get-out-the-vote activities in 2007 and 2008.

Government funding for ACORN largely has been federal, said State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville. But Collins said he believes state officials should still check state contracts to make sure any funding has been used properly.

"At this point in time, I think it would be prudent to stop all funding from Georgia agencies until, you know, the situation is addressed," Collins said. "And in the future if there is any reason for ACORN to be receiving the funds, then these issues need to be cleared up before any funding’s available."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.