The release of three undercover videos showing ACORN staffers assisting undercover journalists posing as a pimp and a prostitute evade taxes and hide child prostitution has lit a fire under Republicans on Capitol Hill. The Senate yesterday voted to cut off federal funding from ACORN in its HUD/Transportation appropriation, and the House GOP caucus wants a similar amendment to their version of the bill:
Today House Republicans will introduce a bill that would end all federal funding to ACORN and its affiliates. Republicans are also sending a letter to President Obama on the same subject. …
House Republicans point out that they have long pushed for a cutoff in government funding for ACORN. Republican leader John Boehner last year sent a letter to President Bush asking for the defunding of ACORN. There is already Republican legislation calling for the total cutoff of Housing and Urban Development Department funds to ACORN, and Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, took a leading role in pushing for the Census Bureau decision.
Jake Tapper reports that Senate Republicans want a full investigation into all of ACORN’s activities:
Prompted by the videos and recent arrest warrants issued in Florida for ACORN employees who allegedly falsified voter applications, today Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, wrote to the committee chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general Kenneth Donohue calling for “an immediate and thorough investigation” into ACORN’s activities.
“Last night’s vote served as a resounding rebuke on behalf of American taxpayers regarding the activities of ACORN,” said Shelby in a statement. “While this vote is important, it is limited in scope and we must know more. It is imperative that we proceed immediately to investigate what appears to be ACORN’s stunning disregard for the law and abuse of taxpayer funds. Such an investigation would serve as the basis for determining not only whether ACORN is worthy of receiving other federal funds this year, but ever again.”
Shelby said the recent controversies “add to numerous other reported issues within the organization over many years including: embezzlement of nearly one million dollars by the brother of the organization’s founder; charges of additional voter registration fraud in other states; and the stripping of federal grants following findings that ACORN used federal money to promote legislation.”
How did ACORN respond to the overall controversy? By playing the race card:
[ACORN spokesperson Bertha] Lewis said Fox was “attempt(ing) to destroy the largest community organization of Black, Latino, poor and working families in the country. It is not coincidence that the most recent attacks have been launched just when health care reform is gaining traction. It is clear they’ve had these tapes for months. We are their Willy Horton for 2009.[“]
Well, racism is the excuse du jour these days, but that’s not the big problem for ACORN. Indictments for voter fraud at a number of their offices started this ball rolling this summer, and these undercover videos show how ACORN acts with the taxpayer money it gets. Lewis can scream “Willie Horton” at the top of her lungs, but it won’t speak as loudly as three ACORN offices conspiring to hide tax evasion and child prostitution.
Or, make that four. Big Government plans to release another video this afternoon at 4 pm ET, apparently taken at an ACORN office in Southern California. According to Twitter chatter, this one has some politicians named, as well as a surprising admission from the ACORN staffer on tape.
Update: Republicans want the IRS to end its partnership with ACORN in light of the videotapes, too:
The House GOP leadership wants President Obama and the IRS to sever the services’ ties with Acorn after an expose showed Acorn staffers with the group’s low-income tax prep service offering advice to clients posing as a youth prostitution ring.
The IRS letter calls on Commissioner Douglas Shulman “to sever all ties… Currently, ACORN serves as partner with the IRS to assist low and middle class individuals with free tax preparation.”
The leaders, including Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pointed to recent comments by Ron Smith, IRS Chief of Community and Volunteer Partnership, that “ACORN has had the most significant growth of all of our national partners.”
In their letter to Obama, the leaders cite the Census bureau’s decision to cut ties, adding:
“It is evident that ACORN is incapable of using federal funds in a manner that is consistent with the law. Immediate action is necessary to ensure that no additional tax dollars are directed to ACORN. Simply put, ACORN should not receive another penny of American taxpayers’ money.”
Paying a group to tell people how to evade taxes is somewhat akin to putting a tax cheat in charge of the IRS, isn’t it? Oh, wait ….