ACORN Loses Funding…A Probe Underway?
Just days after MyTwoCensus worried about potential trouble from ACORN as the 2010 Census gets underway, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves severed ties with the organization in its role as a community partner. The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor (83-7) of withholding millions of federal dollars from ACORN. Here’s the report with some important updated from the Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Congressional Republicans stepped up calls to end federal funding of Acorn and begin an immediate investigation of possible criminal violations by the community organizational group whose activities have long been criticized by conservatives.
House Republicans wrote President Barack Obama on Tuesday asking him to end federal support for the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn. The White House had no immediate comment.
House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are cosponsoring legislation to bar federal funds for Acorn pending an investigation by Congress, the Justice Department or the Internal Revenue Service.
Acorn spokesman Brian Kettenring said the group’s members are focused on “solving the health-care and foreclosure crises that Rep. Boehner is ignoring. We encourage him to write letters all he likes, but we would also advise him to focus on the real needs of his constituents and the American people.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, also urged a close look before Acorn receives another penny of taxpayer money, including any funding through a $787 billion economic stimulus package.
The Senate voted 83-7 on Monday to prevent Acorn from receiving federal housing funds in fiscal 2010, which starts Oct. 1. The move comes after Acorn employees in several cities were videotaped offering tax tips and mortgage-application help to individuals posing as pimps and prostitutes; the applicants actually were conservatives who secretly taped the discussions.
Separately, prosecutors in Florida last week issued warrants for several Acorn employees who allegedly falsified voter-registration records in Florida during the 2008 election.
Acorn has received more than $53 million of direct federal funding since 1994 and likely received more indirectly through federal block grants to states and local governments, House Republicans said. But recent allegations are taking a toll: Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau severed plans to work with Acorn on the 2010 census.
Shelby’s concerns were outlined in letters Tuesday to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and to the inspector general of the Housing and Urban Development Department. Besides the videotapes, Shelby cited reports of Acorn employees’ involvement in voter-registration fraud outside Florida, embezzlement by a relative of Acorn’s founder, and the loss of federal grants after Acorn was found to have improperly used funds for lobbying.
Acorn’s spokesman responded by calling for an investigation into Shelby’s support for financial deregulation, which he said hurt U.S. consumers and contributed to “the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.”
Shelby was one of eight U.S. senators to vote against a 1999 law that loosened Depression-era restrictions on U.S. commercial banks.
A spokesman for the Alabama Republican pointed to Shelby’s efforts to strengthen bank capital standards and overhaul federal mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), and his receipt of a 2005 public-service award from the Consumer Federation of America.
“Senator Shelby’s record on these matters is clear,” his spokesman said in a statement.