Officials with the revamped ACORN office in New York -- operating as New York Communities for Change -- have fired staff, shredded reams of documents and told workers to blame disgruntled ex-employees for leaking information in an effort to explain away a FoxNews.com report last week on the group’s involvement in Occupy Wall Street protests, according to sources.
NYCC also is installing surveillance cameras and recording devices at its Brooklyn offices, removing or packing away supplies bearing the name ACORN and handing out photos of Fox News staff with a stern warning not to talk to the media, the sources said.
“They’re doing serious damage control right now,” said an NYCC source.
NYCC Executive Director Jon Kest has been calling a series of emergency meetings to discuss last week’s report—and taking extreme measures to identify the sources in their office and to prevent further damage, a source within NYCC told FoxNews.com.
Two staffers were fired after NYCC officials suspected them as the source of the leaks, a source told FoxNews.com. “One was fired the day the story came out, the other was fired on Friday. (NYCC senior staff) told everyone that they were fired because they talked to you,” a source said.
FoxNews.com’s report identified NYCC as a key organizing force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Sources within the group also told FoxNews.com NYCC was hiring people to carry signs and join the protests. NYCC -- a nonprofit organization run almost entirely by former ACORN officials and employees --did not reply for comment prior to the publication of the initial article, but later posted a statement on its website dismissing the article and denying that it pays protesters.
A source said that immediately following publication of the FoxNews.com report staff were called into the Brooklyn office for meetings headed by NYCC’s organizing director, Jonathan Westin. Westin handed out copies of the article and went through it line-by-line, the source said.
Staffers were also given copies of photos of Senior Fox News Correspondent Eric Shawn and three other Fox News staff members, including this reporter.
“They reminded us that we can get fired, sued, arrested for talking to the press,” the source said. “Then they went through the article point-by-point and said that the allegation that we pay people to protest isn’t true.”
“‘That’s the story that we’re sticking to,’” Westin said, according to the source.
The source said staffers at the meeting contested Westin’s denial:
“It was pretty funny. Jonathan told staff they don’t pay for protesters, but the people in the meeting who work there objected and said, ‘Wait, you pay us to go to the protests every day?’ Then Jonathan said ‘No, but that’s your job,’ and staffers were like, ‘Yeah, our job is to protest,’ and Westin said, ‘No your job is to fight for economic and social justice. We just send you to protest.’
“Staff said, ‘Yes, you pay us to carry signs.’ Then Jonathan says, ‘That’s your job.’ It went on like that back and forth for a while.”
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/03...#ixzz1cfnNnfKk