The Baltimore video, which hit the Internet on Thursday and aired Friday on the Fox News Channel, also intensified Republican calls for a congressional probe of ACORN. The group has long weathered charges of criminal activity ranging from voter fraud to racketeering as well as criticism of its financial ties and close cooperation with President Obama's 2008 campaign for the White House.
"It is no coincidence that the most recent attacks have been launched just when health care reform is gaining traction," Bertha Lewis, ACORN's chief organizer, said in a press release Saturday. "It is clear they've had these tapes for months."
Ms. Lewis said conservative forces were conspiring to make ACORN the "Willie Horton for 2009," referring to the convicted murderer who committed more crimes while on work release from a Massachusetts prison and was featured in a 1988 campaign ad criticizing Democratic presidential nominee Michael S. Dukakis as being supposedly soft on crime.
"We are the boogeyman for the right wing and its echo chambers," Ms. Lewis said.