Special Report

Nadler’s ACORN Ethics

ACORN enjoys congressional a congressional investigator's protection.

By 10.26.09

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Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who heads a congressional subcommittee that may be investigating ACORN in the not-too-distant future, has been providing advice to ACORN's lawyer, according to a new report.

Nadler, a longtime ACORN ally, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Lincoln Anderson, a reporter for the Villager, writes that earlier this month while he attended at the office of ACORN's New York-based lawyer Arthur Z. Schwartz to interview him, a telephone call came in from Nadler:

Midway through the interview with The Villager last Thursday, Schwartz got a phone call from Congressmember Jerrold Nadler. The West Side congressmember -- one of only about a dozen Democrats to oppose the Defund ACORN Act -- was calling Schwartz's attention to an e-mail that had been forwarded to him, detailing a directive from two weeks earlier to federal agencies, implementing the act. The directive not only ordered agencies to cease funding ACORN and all its subcontractors, but cancel all funding allocated in previous years. The memo had been found -- where else? -- on a right-wing blog.

Nadler has branded the Defund ACORN Act a "bill of attainder," or an unfair, punitive act by Congress; Schwartz said the congressmember, during the phone call, asked him why ACORN hasn't sued over this yet. [emphasis added]

How exactly is it appropriate for the chairman of a congressional subcommittee to be offering strategic advice to a group he is now under growing pressure to probe?

A call to Nadler's Capitol Hill office on Sunday seeking comment was not immediately returned.

In spring Nadler performed a political kabuki dance with House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), promising during a congressional hearing to probe ACORN if "credible evidence" of wrongdoing arose.

"It's not our business to say ACORN is terrible or ACORN is wonderful. That's not a congressional job," Nadler said. "The evidence -- I've listened to it -- I think most of it is nonsense. If it's true, it's a law enforcement matter."

Weeks later Conyers mysteriously backed away from his promise to investigate ACORN, saying "the powers that be" had decided against it. He's refused to identify "the powers that be."

Like Nadler, Judiciary Committee chairman Conyers is also a huge fan of ACORN. Conyers received a 100% rating from ACORN in its 2006 legislative scorecard. He showed how truly in sync he was with ACORN when he spoke at the group's national convention last June 22. "I'm through with deregulation," said Conyers. "It doesn't work because the capitalist predators who are waiting unregulated are going to take advantage of it."

Of course the Judiciary Committee is doing nothing about ACORN even as evidence of the group's corruption continues to pile up. Conyers's press office refuses even to comment on whether a probe might happen in the future.

Instead of taking decisive action, Conyers and another longtime ACORN ally, House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), punted by asking the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to provide a "clear and objective analysis" of the various "charges and countercharges" concerning ACORN. CRS was also asked to explore Nadler's allegation that an ACORN defunding bill was an unconstitutional bill of attainder and whether young reporters violated state wiretapping laws by capturing ACORN workers on video offering advice in lawbreaking techniques.

Incidentally, Nadler's newfound interest in the finer points of constitutional law earned him a leftist fist bump from the Village Voice, a sure sign that the congressman is up to no good.

As Anita MonCrief has documented, Nadler's ties with ACORN go way back. Under New York's "fusion" system, Nadler has run on the tickets of both the Democratic Party and New York's Working Families Party (WFP).

The WFP is ACORN's political party and a key member of ACORN's farflung empire of radical activism. ACORN's chief organizer Bertha Lewis co-founded the party and longtime ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard, currently White House political director, worked for the party.

Meanwhile, in his article Anderson also quotes ACORN lawyer Schwartz praising Nadler. "One of the things I've come to appreciate in this is how great Jerry Nadler is," Schwartz is quoted saying.

Now we know why ACORN holds Nadler in such high esteem.

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About the Author

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist at a conservative watchdog group in Washington, D.C. Vadum is also author of Subversion Inc: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.