Friday, January 8, 2010

Watchdog group 'Judicial Watch' update on ACORN

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation's public life.

Obama Administration to Fund ACORN Despite Funding Ban?

To fund or not to fund? That was the question regarding the disgraced community organization ACORN that we all thought was answered two months ago when Congress voted to deny ACORN all federal funding after the organization was caught red-handed trying to advise undercover reporters on how to evade tax, immigration, and child prostitution laws.

So why have the federal funding floodgates opened for ACORN once again?

According to The New York Times:

The Justice Department has concluded that the Obama administration can lawfully pay the community group Acorn for services provided under contracts signed before Congress banned the government from providing money to the group.

The department's conclusion, laid out in a recently disclosed five-page memorandum from David Barron, the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, adds a new wrinkle to a sharp political debate over the antipoverty group's activities and recent efforts to distance the government from it.

It was just over two months ago, on October 1, that President Obama signed into law a spending bill that included a provision that said no taxpayer money — including money authorized by previous legislation — could be "provided to" ACORN or its affiliates.

Seems like clear-cut language. But then the Justice Department got Clintonian in its interpretation.

Apparently, according to Barron, because the law signed by Obama specifically states that no government funds could be "provided to" ACORN, previous government ACORN contracts must be honored. Citing the dictionary in his legal memo, Barron said the term "provided to" refers to instances where government officials are making a discretionary choice whether to fund the organization or not, and not to instances where contracts have already been consummated. Had the statute simply said "expended," or "obligated," the reasoning goes, different story.

It appears the Obama Justice Department is bending over backwards to squeeze ACORN through this "loophole."

And so, with the Obama Justice Department's blessing, the federal government might continue to honor contracts it made with an organization that is alleged to have paid volunteers with crack cocaine, engaged in massive voter registration fraud, and used taxpayer dollars to get specific politicians elected to Congress (and the White House).

When the U.S. Census kicked ACORN to the curb and Congress appeared to de-fund the group a few months back many people thought the end of ACORN was near. But the organization has too many leftist friends in Congress and the Obama administration (including the President) to go quietly or quickly. And with more than 300 affiliates, ACORN's complicated structure makes the group tough to pin down. Reporting suggests the organization is considering changing its name and has already transferred many of its assets to other front groups.

(Incidentally, click here to hear Rep. Darrell Issa, Ranking Member of the House Government Oversight Committee, talk in depth about ACORN's structure and criminal activity. The congressman was a guest at a recent Judicial Watch educational panel discussing corruption in the Obama administration.)

Of course, Judicial Watch continues to investigate ACORN aggressively. Overall, we've filed more than two dozen Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with various agencies.

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