Congress -- and possibly Citigroup -- may be gearing up to start funding the organized crime syndicate ACORN again. The current federal funding ban expires Dec. 18.
On Tuesday evening the House Appropriations Committee rejected on a party line vote of 9 to 5 an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) that would have blocked federal funding of the radical advocacy group.
The amendment was needed because the Obama administration thumbed its nose at a provision in spending legislation that banned ACORN funding until the end of next week.
In a ruling revealed late last month by the Justice Department the Obama administration invented a loophole allowing the government to continue funding the president's friends at ACORN. Through the magic of legal interpretation, the language forbidding funding the group was transformed by Acting Assistant Attorney General David J. Barron into a requirement not "to refuse payment on binding contractual obligations that predate" the original funding ban.
Latham's amendment would have closed the loophole by banning funding for ACORN, including any funding covering "a contract or other agreement entered into before the date of the enactment of this or any such other Act."
The bottom line is that the ACORN funding prohibition language remains in the massive fiscal 2010 spending measure taken up by appropriators this week but ACORN ally Eric Holder's Justice Department has rendered that language virtually meaningless.
The Obama administration's bailout of ACORN may help keep the financially distressed group that had been considering filing bankruptcy before Christmas open for business.
The bailout should be music to the ears of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a huge fan of ACORN who has given thousands of dollars over the years to the ACORN network. Nadler urged ACORN's lawyer to sue the government, arguing that a ban on funding constituted a "bill of attainder." Within weeks, ACORN took his advice.
This wouldn't be much of a problem except that Nadler is head of a congressional subcommittee that might have to investigate ACORN. So far he has resisted calls to launch an inquiry into ACORN's wrongdoings.
If this isn't grounds for a congressional ethics probe, I don't what is.
I suspect Nadler might even be a member of ACORN. I asked his testy communications director Ilan Kayatsky this question a few days ago and all I got was a snarky, error-filled email that didn't answer my question.
Citigroup may also be on the verge of funding ACORN again.
Before ACORN issued a sham report exonerating itself from allegations of wrongdoing, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit said his company was awaiting the ACORN-sponsored inquiry into the group's corruption that was prompted by the emergence this fall of several hidden-camera videos.
The videos show ACORN employees across America eager to help a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute use government funding to open a brothel staffed by child prostitutes smuggled illegally into the country.
While that evidence was initially enough to convince Congress to cut off funding for the criminal group, it wasn't enough for Pandit. Asked if he could envision Citi permanently cutting financial ties to ACORN, he said it "completely depends" on the outcome of the report.
Yesterday Citi spokeswoman Andrea Hurst confirmed a decision hasn't yet been made on re-funding ACORN. "We are reviewing all materials," she told me in an email.
Citi is a Big Government lovers' bank that has long been a slave to left-wing fads. In what should be a gentlemen-start-your-engines moment for class-action lawyers representing Citi shareholders, in October the bank won an award for being the "Most Innovative Bank in Climate Change." Citi and a host of other huge corporations may be rich targets to hit when the unraveling in progress of Al Gore's anthropogenic global warming swindle is complete.
Citigroup's charitable foundation has given ACORN affiliates more than $1 million since 2003. It has funded ACORN Institute ($500,000 in 2007), ACORN Baltimore ($5,000 in 2003), ACORN Child Care Providers for Action ($4,000 in 2003), and American Institute for Social Justice ($500,000 in 2005).
The foundation has also funded other left-wing groups including Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, World Resources Institute, Aspen Institute, Rainforest Alliance, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is concerned that a proposed "Consumer Financial Protection Oversight Board" may give ACORN a voice in shaping financial regulations.
Provisions creating the oversight board are included in legislation that would establish a federal banking bureaucracy to be called the "Consumer Financial Protection Agency."
Bachmann said yesterday that the vague wording of the legislation (HR 4173) would allow representatives from ACORN to sit on the board.
"Groups such as ACORN that have been indicted in more than a dozen states for voter registration fraud and other crimes have shown that they are incapable of adhering to even the most basic standards of ethics. They should neither play a role in overseeing our nation's financial system nor be eligible for federal funding."
ACORN was a pioneer in using the Community Reinvestment Act, enacted in 1977, to blackmail banks. Today it is pushing to expand the reach of the law, even though it played a role in the subprime mortgage meltdown.
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