Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ACORN Editorial - The Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner has done an amazing job reporting on ACORN. No one should want this organization anywhere near something as important as the census.

ACORN got $53 million in federal funds since 94, now eligible for up to $8 billion more
By: Kevin MooneyExaminer Columnist 5/6/09 5:32 AM
At least $53 million in federal funds have gone to ACORN activists since 1994, and the controversial group could get up to $8.5 billion more tax dollars despite being under investigation for voter registration fraud in a dozen states.

The economic stimulus bill enacted in February contains $3 billion that the non-profit activist group known more formally as the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now could receive, and 2010 federal budget contains another $5.5 billion that could also find its way into the group’s coffers.

An Examiner review of federal spending data found that ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal money since 1994. A downloadable spreadsheet of the $53 million is posted on

Scott Levenson, ACORN's national spokesman, said "we have received no significant federal funding." When asked by The Examiner about the $53 million, Levenson said: "If you listen to some of the Republicans who are going to get a billion dollars from the stimulus package, I'm still waiting for my share. Their claims are overinflated, this is a gimmick and an attempt to demonize ACORN."

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-MN, wants to stop the flow of tax dollars to ACORN, but House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-MA, stands in her way.

Frank plans to strip out an anti-ACORN provision Bachman succeeded in inserting in the proposed Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act that could be voted on by the House today or Thursday.

Bahmann’s amendment was unanimously approved by Frank’s committee in a voice vote last week. It would block organizations that have been indicted for voter registration or vote fraud from receiving housing counseling grants and legal assistance grants.

The Bachman prohibition would apply only to the proposed mortgage reform legislation, and would not change ACORN’s ability to receive funds under either the stimulus program or 2010 budget.

Frank said his panel’s approval of the Bachman amendment was a mistake and that he had not carefully reviewed its language when he previously voted yes.

“I did not read it carefully, and it was in the last minute that the amendment was accepted,” Frank said. “It is a deeply flawed amendment and I am opposed to it. Banning people from possible participation in government programs based on an indictment is a violation of the basic principles of due process.”

Frank plans to offer another amendment to the bill on the House floor that would allow non-profits that have been indicted to receive grants under the legislation so long as they have not been convicted.

Bachmann said Frank’s amendment would “eviscerate the meaning” of her original amendment.

“I am disturbed by how cavalierly Washington spends the taxpayers’ money,” Bachmann told The Examiner. “The new charges brought against ACORN this week in Nevada reaffirm my concern about giving taxpayer dollars to organizations that are repeatedly under criminal indictment. Last week, I asked: Whose side are we on, the taxpayer's or ACORN's?”

Non-profit groups like ACORN can apply for $2 billion in funds set aside for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes under the $800 billion economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year.

An additional $1 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are included in the stimulus bill. ACORN and other non-profit advocacy groups could receive through federally funded housing programs administered by state and local governments.

“ACORN is not normally eligible to apply directly for CDBG funds but may apply to the states and local government units that are CDBG recipients,” Matthew Vadum, a senior analyst and editor with Capital Research Center (CRC), said. “This opens the way for ACORN to receive billions more in taxpayer money.”

In addition to the $3 billion available in the stimulus package, the proposed $47.5 billion Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget provides $1 billion for an affordable housing trust fund and $4.5 billion in CDBG funds that could be funneled to ACORN indirectly.

“This means $8.5 billion is on the table this year for ACORN and other left-wing advocacy groups,” Vadum said. “ACORN won’t get all of the money but any tax dollars going to a criminal enterprise like this is just wrong.”

Kevin Mooney is an Examiner staff writer on the commentary staff.

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