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S.D. GOP Wants Inquiry Into ACORN Voter Registration

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Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Above: ACORN official David Lagstein goes on-the-record about concerns for the organization's reputation after an undercover filmmaker caught an ACORN employee giving instructions for smuggling humans across the border. The editors discuss.

San Diego County Republicans today are organizing a large turnout for Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, in which a request will be made to audit voter registration cards submitted by ACORN, the nonprofit organization in trouble after controversial undercover videos were posted on the Internet.

Supervisors Bill Horn and Pam Slater-Price placed an item on the meeting agenda that, if approved, will authorize a forensic audit of thousands of voter registration cards and have the chief administrative office consult with the District Attorney about a possible criminal investigation of the group's activities.

Tony Krvaric, the chairman of the county Republican Party, sent an e- mail to supporters calling for them to attend the meeting.

Krvaric called ACORN "a corrupt organization that has been convicted" of voter registration fraud in other states.

ACORN turned in 26,000 voter registration cards in San Diego County, mostly from the South Bay, a number that's more than two-thirds of the group's entire statewide production, Krvaric said.

ACORN touts itself as an advocate for the poor, mainly in housing issues, but its voter registration drives have garnered most of the attention.

In an e-mailed statement, David Lagstein of the local ACORN office said his organization "did important work to help thousands of Latino, African American, low income and young voters apply to become registered voters last year. We ran a tight Quality Control program and communicated with election officials throughout. We turned in every application we collected and flagged anything that appeared to be an issue. No one has worked harder to get our citizens involved in voting."

There will always be some cases of missing information, bad handwriting or duplicate cards from people unsure if they were registered, he said.

"If there is to be an audit of ACORN's work, the same questions should be asked about voter registration cards sent in by mail, filled out at government offices, or collected by other groups," Lagstein said. "We are happy to work with election officials. However, no citizen should receive different treatment based on where they completed a legal voter registration application."

In two of the undercover videos, ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera was seen offering a duo who posed as a prostitute and her pimp advice on getting 12 young girls across the border from Mexico.

The videos, and others like it, were secretly created by conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles for BigGovernment.com, a new Web site launched by Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart.

In the first clip, the employee tells the duo it is easier to get people across the border through Tijuana than any other area along the border because he knows people there. In the second clip, he asked the supposed prostitute how much her services cost.

Similar undercover videos have been taken in ACORN offices in Baltimore, Brooklyn, N.Y., Washington, D.C. and San Bernardino. An ACORN employee in Baltimore told the duo young girls from El Salvador who would be part of their business could be claimed as dependents.

Lagstein initially defended Vera last Thursday, saying his comments in the video were taken "completely out of context."

But later the same day, Lagstein held a news conference in which he said he had since seen a seven-minute version of the video and it contradicted what Vera told him. He said Vera was fired.

Lagstein also called the secret videotaping a smear campaign designed to distract from the nation's debate on health care reform. He said his group is investigating the possibility of a lawsuit against the filmmakers.

ACORN lost all federal funding last week thanks to a measure sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and approved overwhelmingly by both chambers in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

ACORN officials have said they are revamping their employee training and plan to launch an independent review of the group's practices.

ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Last year, it came under fire after its employees submitted false registration forms during the presidential race. ACORN officials said a handful of employees did so in a bid to boost their pay.

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