U.S. News

NY prosecutor clears U.S. liberal group ACORN workers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Employees at the U.S. liberal grass-roots group ACORN who were caught on video giving tax advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, New York prosecutors said on Monday.

The organization has been reeling since a YouTube video was disseminated last September showing ACORN workers giving advice on how to flout the law to two conservative activists who posed as a pimp and a prostitute.

The U.S. Congress then voted by wide margins to prohibit the federal government from funding ACORN, and the U.S. Census Bureau ended its partnership with the group.

Following a five-month investigation, no criminal wrongdoing was uncovered, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.

The employees involved in the incident at the group’s Brooklyn office were fired and the New York chapter left ACORN and set up a new organization, ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.

Republicans have long accused the group of fraud in registering voters and improperly mixing political and nonpolitical activities. ACORN has denied the allegations.

ACORN plays a significant political role in low-income neighborhoods and in 2008 signed up 1.3 million people to register to vote in areas where Democrats poll well.

The group promotes affordable housing and fights home foreclosures as well as giving tax advice.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Peter Cooney