The photo in Monday’s New York Times of John Edwards and members of the activist group ACORN spoke volumes about the phoniness of his poverty tour through Southern states. And it was no surprise that the Times let the photo-op pass without as much as a word of analysis or critique.

While Edwards was in New Orleans to pitch his plan for rebuilding the city, he was also pandering to one of the nation’s most corrupt and deceitful organizations, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN — a group famous for voter fraud, which I’ll get to in future posts.

As Edwards campaigned on ending poverty in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans with ACORN activists, the Times might have bothered to note a 2006 headline by the Associated Press: “ACORN loses N.O. recovery consulting jobs.”

According to the AP, “ACORN was replaced in the planning roles because it also wants to act as a property developer in the Lower 9th Ward and possibly elsewhere. Several neighborhood groups worry about a potential conflict of interest, said Ben Johnson, executive director of the Greater Orleans Foundation, an organizational base for the unified planning.”

The article goes on to report that “ACORN officials refused to set aside plans to act as a developer. That ambition became clear in early August when Mayor Ray Nagin announced that ACORN Housing was among the developers that won a place in competition to rehabilitate homes seized by the city because of nonpayment of taxes. At the time, ACORN sought control of more than 200 residential properties, targeting the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans, and won the right to redevelop up to 150 of them.”

And, finally, this zinger: ”This is similar to another scandal that plagued ACORN in Arkansas. They were using government grants to build low-income housing, but they kept the title to the land beneath the house. The homeowner could only sell the house back to ACORN for the same price they purchased the home. They had no chance to build up equity in the home.”

John Edwards is campaigning with an organization that deprives the poor from building equity. That’s rich.