What the "Defund ACORN Act" is really about

Acorns grow into oak trees...unless their water and light (or funding) gets cut off

Last September, the US Congress approved the Defund ACORN Act without investigating the charges leveled against ACORN.

Bertha Lewis, ACORN's CEO, claims that these charges were nothing more than a massive “propaganda campaign” and that ACORN was targeted because it was successful at organizing low-income communities--the very folks that rich corporate interests don't want to see voting and otherwise standing up for their rights.

Now with a hearing scheduled for June 24, Lewis is asking folks to stand up and fight what she describes as an assault on the Constitution itself.

“Congress' move, singling out one organization for sanctions without investigation, is called a "bill of attainder" and it is expressly prohibited by the Constitution of the United States,” Lewis stated in a press release issued today.

” If this attack is allowed to stand, then any other organization that displeases those with power in the United States can be similarly attacked and, potentially, destroyed,” Lewis said.

As she notes, ACORN has been investigated by four separate and independent, sources - former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger; the Brooklyn District Attorney's office; the California Attorney General; and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“Each of them has cleared ACORN of any wrongdoing,” Lewis observed. “ Three investigations reviewing the videos used to attack ACORN determined that they were "splice jobs" in which "the truth is on the cutting room floor". The fourth, from the GAO, concluded that ACORN had not misused any of the Federal funds it had received. In other words, the entire set of attacks was a witch hunt driven using modern propaganda techniques and with millions of dollars in dedicated air time on a "news" channel and talk radio.”

Lewis thinks she knows why these attacks happened.

” We were simply too good at what we did - engaging low- and moderate-income families and families of color in America's democratic system,” she said. “ If we hadn't helped 860,000 new voters get on the voter rolls since 2004 (we believe this is the largest non-partisan voter registration effort ever carried out by a single non-profit organization), if we hadn't helped raise the minimum wage in seven states, if we hadn't blown the whistle about predatory lending in the sub-prime market back in 1999, and if we hadn't brought in over $15 billion in direct benefits to America's low- and moderate-income neighborhoods from 1994 - 2004, then we wouldn't have been the targets of smears and attacks going back to the 2004 election. Smears that were exposed during the height of the scandal surrounding the firing of US Attorneys like David Iglesias in New Mexico, who refused to trump up phony voter fraud charges against ACORN.”

Lewis comments that if the attacks leveled against ACORN had really been about misusing taxpayer dollars, then defense contractors like Xe (formerly Blackwater), Halliburton, and Kaman Dayron, all of whom have been found guilty of either committing actual crimes or of collectively defrauding the American people of hundreds of millions of dollars, would have been the subject of their own Defund Corporate Criminals Act.

”But, of course, they aren't,” Lewis concluded.  Because, unlike ACORN's low- and moderate-income membership, these corporations can buy influence in the highest levels of political power in the United States. So, our lawsuit against the unconstitutional Defund ACORN Act is not about ACORN and its past federal funding. It is about justice for all organizations that fight for the interests of regular folks against the most powerful interests in America.”


Many other commenters have said the same thing - that passing a bill to defund a particular organization is unconstitutional. And it's no accident this organization was targeted.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 22, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

Actually I suspect the reality that their taxpayer supported activities were politically indefensible in a time of massive deficits had something to do with the lack of a defense by their political promoters. If you so strongly support their mission you should find making a tax deductable contribution to Acorn quite satisfying. Please however refrain from using dollars borrowed by the Government that my children will need to pay debt service on to satisfy your idealism. Spending other peoples money needs to be limited to essential services.

Posted by Guest John on Jun. 22, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

I don't know if I can think of an equally right wing political group that uses up so much in tax dollars for open political activism.

Should my tax dollars go the the revealed agenda of people who are akin to right wing religionists, but from the left on the political spectrum?

This isn't about idiotic war spending, its about spending to further the agenda of a small group of left wingers with an entitlement to spend tax dollars on their revealed agenda.

Posted by Matlock on Jun. 23, 2010 @ 6:34 am

I think it would be wise to note that the amount ACORN spent in communities for other purposes such as their grant application states. There seems to be a few "overzealous" folks that were paid by ACORN to register voters like Donald Duck. If Donald Duck showed up to vote, perhaps he would be asked for ID.

Voter registration was but one of the multitude of services provided by ACORN.

I can think of a few grants in the thousand points of light and faith based initiatives that would have the same "questionable" political stances. Should we investigate all those churches that advocate "an agenda that is right wing", like getting abortion criminalized and promotion of Prop 8 passage, leaps into mind?

I will say this: There are tax dollars spent all the time that inevitably causes people to bristle with contempt. Across the board, it goes both ways. Right wing doesn't want abortions on their dime, left wing doesn't want preemptive strikes (name your issue from any view)... fill in the blank __________________.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 8:51 am

Wikipedia search NOM and LDS (apparently this site doesn't like links)

Here's one "investigation" Of LDS Church that is highly involved in U.S. lawmaking, refusing to reveal the sources of funding. Churches do not pay property taxes for any property, just as any other church. They are resistant to showing their records. They are exempt from being taxed, they may or may not be accepting federal dollars, since we cannot see the donors list because they do not wish to reveal names because of opposition intimidation.

I have read books on fundamentalist LDS plural marriages that have compounds, where the women and children receive Welfare assistance and this is the main source of income for the family. Since plural marriage is not recognized, there is no legally recognized marriage and the single Moms apply for Welfare for herself and several children. The father of multiple wives having large numbers of children, for whom the American taxpayer support, not the father.

That said, I believe these families are disavowed by current LDS elders.

It seems to me, these are somewhat similar in their basis for tax dollars being spent in ways we do not want. The SCOTUS recently said we cannot use the Establishment of Religion clause in Hein v Freedom from Religion. So, we just have to agree to disagree about the little minutia for how we think our dollars should be spent?

Voting seems to be the key on how tax money is spent. It looks like voter registration is being targeted for propaganda to cause ACORN to fall. Sad, IMO.

Someone else would say sad about LDS and the Pope trying to "save us" from gay marriage.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 10:10 am

If the feds start cracking down on these religious types who mix religion and politics both sides will howl when its them, and get all excited when it isn't. The religious people on the left and right probably don't even equate their views with politics when they get more extreme.

The bigger religion/politics types just open up political action groups and go that route. Catholics and Mormons financed their prop 8 views seemingly this way.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

I would bet these faith based operations are just as bad as ACORN. Having a revealed agenda makes it OK to use tax dollars to push your agenda onto people.

My opinion on abortion is that it is a legit medical procedure, all that progressive like "partial birth abortion" new-speak is so tedious.

I think the problem is using tax dollars to advocate for a political agenda, ACORN's non-partisan agenda is to advance a progressive world view. The faith based groups who make up shit about condoms not stopping aids and saying abortion causes cancer on the public's dime are just as weird as ACORN.

The overzealous ACORN signature gatherers are just part of the system, the problem was so widespread that it was probably just a laugh to the leadership. They can claim to have registered X,XXX,XXX number of people when begging for cash from congress, knowing that 25% of that number are Disney cartoons and NFL quarterbacks.

...and yes, I would love to see all churches left and right who get involved in politics lose their status, all advocacy groups supported by tax dollars who engage in politics get their tax money cut off etc... The left and rights double standards around this and their justifications are ridiculous.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 10:18 am

Nice to discuss with you.

I think there are many rocks to look under.

My understanding is ACORN is sort of like the local community source for improving themselves. In most large cities there is a depressed area that needs more self empowerment with many issues. It is helpful to break a cycle of relying upon Welfare, instill pride in community. I call that a good thing. Voter registration would be another way to let people feel they have a say in what happens in their community.

Maybe there is some aversion to what party is doing the registration? I read that ACORN found those APPLICATIONS before they were turned in, seeing they were bogus.

It is your view that ACORN has some demonic agenda and it's no wonder seeing how there is a campaign to cause public disdain of them.

I do think it's sad that they get such a beating, when the objective was to help their communities. Voter apathy has contributed to the feeling of no control over anything.
Voting gives a sense of control and accept more responsibility, being a part of something rather than languishing as a victim of something.

Abortion is an undesirable thing, but it is not my call to require a person to give birth in all situations, or face imprisonment. It is as simple as that to me.
I think the abortion issue should be discussed privately between the parties involved, and I am not involved.

I just think some topics are "amplified", such as abortion and ACORN voter fraud to sway the minds of people to vote some way. Just the same as people talk in gun lingo or 2nd Amendment solutions to get a response they can point to "they want to take away our guns".

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 11:14 am

There are a few other odd things about ACORN, some of those things I thought were half truths or just made up by right wing loons.

For one they tried to keep from paying the California state minimum wage to their workers, the excuse was that the workers would lose touch with the people they wanted to help. That was lost before a judge.

The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) (in papers which actually I hunted down and read online) found that ACORN harassed and tormented unionization efforts, the work order investigation which I found stated that there was a fair amount of leadership who knew about the workers being denied their rights to unionize.

Part of the union complaint and what seems to be a general complaint was that the people doing the grunt work didn't want to wonder off into these poor neighborhoods alone, especially the women. The ACORN management would hear none of these worker safety complaints.

Odd steps for ACORN when they call for a "living wage" worker safety and are supposedly pro union.

Reading a fair amount of these article's over the years, ACORN seems more like a political cult, your mileage may vary though.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

The point ACORN-haters like to omit from these discussions is that no one has ever been shown to have voted because of a fraudulent registration form. In fact, ACORN was required by law to flag any forms it thought looked suspicious. And it did. Republican leaders then pounced on ACORN's reports and sought to use them to discredit the entire organization. Talk about a classic Karl Rove-inspired operation.

Posted by sarah on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 11:05 am

Right, there are double standards everywhere.

I am not picking on a particular person, but I hear conservative folks say "prove it", when one of their own is under the microscope, but then if something is suspect on the left, look out.

I know it goes across the board, but seems to be a matter of "detecting the side your on" first, then denounce or defend.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2010 @ 11:18 am

Many people convicted for fraud while working for ACORN, were not turned in by ACORN, do a search for "Clifton Mitchell ACORN" as an example. It's hardly sensible to say that the republicans jumped on this because ACORN was policing itself.

Do a search for Anita MonCrief, she is an ex-ACORN employee in leadership who testified under oath that getting 40% real voters a day was good enough for the ACORN leadership.

Also search for "Christopher Edwards las vegas sun" he was a field director for ACORN just convicted for voter fraud. He admits breaking all sorts of laws. Part of his plea deal is testifying against people higher up the chain. etc...

If ACORN really cared they would have put a stop to the quota system years before this became an issue, instead they just kept at it.

The real goal is to claim a huge number of registered voters to show when going before government agencies to beg for more money.

And with ACORN registering thousands of absentee ballots who knows if anyone has voted illegally. There are literally dozens of investigations, hearings, plea bargains and convictions out there to read through on the web.

Karl Rove is an idiot, but the responsibility for ACORN lawlessness is their own quota system and tacit approval of the methods to gain numbers. Your strange defense is just a Saul Alinsky bullshitting exercise.

One of the reasons I gave up on the leftwing mindset is that they can't call bullshit on people who may agree with them on somethings, just like the right. The "no enemies to the - left or right" makes you look stupid and easily duped, no reason to take you seriously as an intellect when you make such terrible cases so easily debunked using the web.

Posted by Matlock on Jun. 25, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

I hear you, Glen Matlock, but the cases you point to don't prove that ACORN ordered employees to commit fraud. Instead, they show that individuals made up names, ACORN reported the fabricated names as suspicious--and top Republican leaders pounced on the self-reporting as an opportunity to discredit the entire outfit. Could ACORN have done a better job of regulating its employees? Probably. But even Republican Attorney General's like New Mexico's David Iglesias couldn't find any evidence of deliberate malfaisance--and he got fired by the Bushistas for telling the truth.

Read out story at http://www.sfbg.com/2009/10/21/attack-right-wing-nuts.

Posted by sarah on Jun. 25, 2010 @ 3:03 pm