Bachmann Urges HUD to Bar ACORN from Taxpayer Fundin

Bachmann Urges HUD to Bar ACORN from Taxpayer Fundin

“The Senate has the guts to stand up for the taxpayer. When will the House and the Administration?”

September 15, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Last week, U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (MN-06) asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to suspend and bar ACORN from its programs and funding:

“For months, I have sought to end the flow of tax dollars to ACORN.  The U.S. Census Bureau’s decision to cut ties with ACORN is a step in the right direction, but ACORN still remains eligible for billions of taxpayer dollars.  I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for blocking the Department of Housing and Urban Development from issuing grants to ACORN.  Unfortunately, House Democrats have rejected this opportunity,” said Bachmann.

In light of ACORN’s additional possibly criminal activities uncovered last week and House Democrats’ rejection of her repeated efforts to block their access to taxpayer funds, Bachmann sent a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting the Secretary strip ACORN and all of its affiliates of access to taxpayer dollars and begin a full investigation through the Committee’s established procedure of suspension and debarment.

The process of suspension and debarment is well established and meant to protect the integrity of federal programs in the executive branch.  It is intended to prevent poor performance, waste, fraud and abuse.

“The time has come to strip this organization of the privilege of receiving taxpayer funding,” wrote Bachmann.  “Americans across our nation are outraged that ACORN may still obtain their hard-earned tax dollars to fund its operations, even while it remains under a dark cloud of suspicion for possibly criminal activities.  ACORN has demonstrated that it has little respect for our laws.  And taxpayer funding is a privilege they have not earned.”

Text of the letter below:

September 11, 2009

The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Secretary Donovan

This week, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an organization that has received more than $53 million in direct federal funding since 1994, once again made unsavory headlines.

On Wednesday, FBI and state authorities charged 11 ACORN employees with voter registration fraud in Miami, Florida.  In this case, of 1,400 registration cards collected by these employees, 888 were found to be falsified.  A day later, two Baltimore-based ACORN workers were caught on camera giving advice to a couple, whom they believed were opening a brothel, on avoiding taxes, seeking HUD grants, and setting up a prostitution ring as a legitimate business.  Today, yet another video surfaced showing two more ACORN employees assisting this couple under the same premise in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the past week brought to light further evidence that ACORN either cannot or will not enforce even the most basic standards of ethical behavior amongst its employees.  This is not something that should be new and surprising to anyone who has seen the plethora of headlines about criminal investigations, indictments, and consent decrees in more than a dozen states.

For instance, just four months ago, Nevada authorities filed criminal charges against ACORN and two former employees for voter registration fraud.  Authorities alleged that ACORN had policies requiring employees in Las Vegas to sign up 20 new voters per day or be fired, a violation of state quota laws.  In January 2009, a voter registration worker for ACORN in East St. Louis was indicted on two counts of voter fraud for submitting forged cards for residents at nursing homes without their knowledge.  In October 2008, reports emerged that a Philadelphia man was charged with forgery, allegedly altering 18 voter registration applications.  That same month, an ACORN worker in Washington State was convicted of helping to register nearly 2,000 voters who did not exist.

Despite ACORN’s pleas that this is just a few bad apples, it’s clear that the problems exist on a systemic level.  In fact, Nevada’s Democrat attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, said earlier this year that ACORN’s own training manuals “clearly detail, condone and require illegal acts.”  The new videos that surfaced this week provide a clear glimpse into the behind-the-scenes activities occurring in ACORN offices across our nation.

The time has come to strip this organization and all of its affiliates from the privilege of receiving taxpayer funding.  Americans across our nation are outraged that ACORN may still obtain their hard-earned tax dollars to fund its operations, much of which remain under a dark cloud of suspicion, and which are clearly run by individuals who have little to no respect for our laws.  As such, I am requesting that the Department of Housing and Urban Development publicly state its intent to prohibit ACORN from accessing any federal funding.

I am also requesting that the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee open an investigation into ACORN and its affiliates.  Established by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, this Committee is tasked with examining whether individuals and organizations should be barred from accessing federal funding and is authorized to suspend those they determine have acted improperly from receiving taxpayer dollars.  Surely the long list of indictments and other criminal activities associated with ACORN would provide the Committee ample reason to launch an investigation.

In fact, page 51873 of the Federal Register states, “An indictment, conviction, civil judgment, or other official findings by Federal, State and/or local bodies that determine factual and/or legal matters, constitutes adequate evidence for purposes of suspension actions.”  It further notes that, “In deciding whether immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest, the suspending official has wide discretion.”  Given ACORN’s past and present activities, I urge you to use this significant discretion to stop this organization from receiving taxpayer dollars today and to begin a full investigation through the Committee’s established procedure.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your prompt reply.  Please do not hesitate to contact me or my Legislative Director, Jessica Perry, at 202-225-2331 should you have any questions.

Contact: Debbee Keller or Dave Dziok 202-225-2331

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