Under the guise of due process concerns, congressional Democrats have opened the way for organizations with criminal histories to gain greater access to taxpayer funds. Exhibit A here is the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN), now under investigation in at least 14 states for voter registration fraud.
Earlier this month, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, sponsored an amendment to the $140 million Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. The Frank measure allowed organizations being investigated by state or federal authorities on corruption charges to receive federal funds as long as they avoid conviction. Frank argued that his amendment, which was approved by the House, protected the presumption of innocence in federal spending.
But federal ethics rules have long stipulated that either an actual or apparent conflict of interest can put a government employee at risk of prosecution for ethics violations. So, if the Frank amendment becomes law, the federal government will have a double standard, ignoring the presumption of innocence for its employees with apparent conflicts of interest, but extending the presumption to its funding recipients.
ACORN claims to be non-partisan, but it and its many affiliates have ardently supported Democratic incumbents and candidates at all levels of government. For example, the Obama campaign in 2008 paid more than $880,000 to Citizen Services Incorporated, an ACORN affiliate that helps organize get-out-the-vote efforts that always seem to focus on heavily Democratic precincts. Seen in this light, the Frank amendment has the look of a pay-back from grateful Democrats, especially since, as The Examiner has previously reported, ACORN is eligible for billions of dollars under the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has crafted legislation to block ACORN from receiving such funding, but Frank and his Democratic colleagues are determined to block her effort. Only four Democrats voted against Frank’s amendment, which overturned an earlier amendment from Bachmann that would have precluded ACORN from receiving funds. This means 245 House members are on record supporting – or are unconcerned – about federal funding going to groups suspected of criminal behavior. “It is not only legitimate for Congress to decide the threshold for accessing taxpayer funds; it is incumbent upon us to do so,” Bachmann said. “And, for far too long, Congress has cavalierly distributed taxpayer money.” This is a shameful abdication of our fiduciary duties.” We couldn’t agree more.
So where is "President Hope and Change" now? Is he going to step in and do the right thing, or is he just going to sit back and let his former contemporaries at ACORN cash in courtesy of the public treasury?