Bank of America Corp. is suspending its work with the housing affiliate of embattled community organizing group ACORN. The decision comes as three Republicans in Congress ask Bank of America and 13 other financial institutions to give Congress a complete accounting of their dealings with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or its affiliates.
In a statement, Bank of America said it would not enter into any further agreements with ACORN Housing Corp. until the bank is satisfied all issues have been resolved. ACORN Housing Corp. and Bank of America have worked together for years on mortgage foreclosure issues.
“We completely understand why our lending partners like Bank of America want assurances that the recent allegations against us won’t happen again,” ACORN Housing Corp. said Monday. “We are taking a number of steps to ensure this, including providing ethics training to all of our staff.”
Long a target of conservative critics, ACORN employees were caught on videotape recently giving advice to a woman posing as a prostitute and to a man posing as her pimp about cheating on taxes and operating a brothel with underage immigrant girls.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Bank of America pulling back from working with ACORN Housing Corp.
On Friday, GOP Reps. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Darrell Issa of California and Lamar Smith of Texas sent a letter to 14 banks requesting disclosure to the House Financial Services Committee of all financial arrangements with ACORN and its subsidiaries or affiliates.
Each of the three congressmen is the ranking Republican on a House panel: Bachus on the House Financial Services Committee, Issa on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Smith on the Judiciary Committee.
“The Republicans are trying to intimidate banks that have stepped up to help stop the foreclosure crisis,” said ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis. “These same Republicans ignored ACORN’s warnings about predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, then gave Wall Street free rein and are now obstructing efforts to help families.”
Citibank, another bank receiving the letter from the three House Republicans, said in a statement that “we are deeply concerned about the recently released videos of frontline ACORN staff.” Citibank said it looks forward to the findings of an independent auditor and a timely resolution of the matter.