Census Bureau severs ties with ACORN in 2010 count

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Census Bureau on Friday severed its ties with ACORN, a community organization that has been hit with Republican accusations of voter-registration fraud.

"We do not come to this decision lightly," Census director Robert Groves wrote in a letter to ACORN, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

In splitting with ACORN, Groves sought to tamp down GOP concerns and negative publicity that the partnership will taint the 2010 head count.

"It is clear that ACORN's affiliation with the 2010 census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 census efforts," Groves wrote.

Stephen Buckner, a census spokesman, confirmed the letter, but declined additional comment.

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson did not immediately return a request for comment.

In recent months, Republicans have become increasingly critical of the census' ties with ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The group, which advocates for poor people, conducted a massive voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some employees were accused of submitting false registration forms with names such as "Mickey Mouse."

ACORN has said only a handful of employees submitted false registration forms and did so in a bid to boost their pay.

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