The right-wing smear campaign against community organizing group ACORN is having the desired effect; yesterday the Senate voted 83-7 to deny housing and community grant funding to the non-profit organization. The vote—prompted by last week's arrest of ACORN employees in Florida accused of falsifying hundreds of voter applications last year—came as an unflattering secret camera video shot in ACORN's Brooklyn office surfaced. The video shows two ACORN employees advising a young couple, posing as prostitute and pimp, how to falsify documents to get a mortgage and tax breaks for a brothel housing El Salvadoran teens.

Yesterday's vote caused the first split between Senator Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, with the former voting to block funding, and the latter backing ACORN. Gillibrand's office released a statement calling the actions of certain ACORN employees "reprehensible" but added, "The truth remains that thousands of New York families who are facing foreclosure depend on charitable organizations like ACORN for assistance." Other politicians piled on ACORN at the local level; Democratic State Senator Bill Perkins of Harlem now wants to reverse a $10,000 grant he awarded to ACORN's New York sponsor, the New York Agency for Community Affairs. And the Brooklyn DA is conducting an investigation.

In her previous statement, ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis would not defend the employees in the video, but insists that the videos "are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist ‘filmmaker’ [James] O’Keefe and his partner in crime. And, in fact, a crime it was—our lawyers believe a felony—and we will be taking legal action against Fox and their co-conspirators." A lawyer for ACORN tells Politico that previous hidden-camera videos shot by O'Keefe in ACORN's offices in Maryland and the District of Columbia were illegal because undercover filming is prohibited. The group intends to sue Fox News and, which aired clips of the videos., which launched last Wednesday, is a project of Andrew Breitbart, the founder of To its credit, the new website also makes room for a "Counterpoint" column from Laurie Essig. She's a Sociology professer at Middlebury, so you won't be too shocked at her take on this whole thing:

In the "gee, I made this not very smart person look really stupid" genre of film making—the sort of "ask stupid questions and play ridiculous characters and edit to make funny" made most famous by Sacha Baron Cohen—comes "Baltimore Acorn Workers support prostitution."... According to the news stories, the video may show two (Black and seemingly not terribly educated) Acorn employees trying to help two (white and seemingly educated) young people figure out how to start a brothel with girls from El Salvador (who, not coincidentally, are here illegally). Within this fantasy is every fear and desire of the far right: evil Black women activists, poor people, illegal immigrants, and sex.

As for Hannah Giles, the "stupid" "whore" in the video, she righteously explains, "I saw the ACORN Housing location in Baltimore as a target — the den of a giant corrupt lion. We wanted to get a reaction and gauge the corruption. We came armed with the things necessary to cause a reaction; we came equipped with the things necessary to capture the reaction. We expected to be successful." Low five!