GOP Gets Justice Department Probe of ACORN Funds

Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:13pm

House Republicans are making headway in their calls for investigations into whether federal agencies gave grants to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the group under fire following the release of a hidden-camera video of its employees appearing to advise people on how to commit a crime.An internal watchdog at the Justice Department said Monday that he plans to open a review into ACORN’s application for and receipt of DOJ grant funds. The action comes a week after Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine urging that he review ACORN’s application for funds.“I am pleased that Inspector General Fine has agreed to investigate whether the Justice Department provided federal funds to ACORN through its grant program. The IG’s report will help Congress ensure that money allocated to support law enforcement efforts is not instead used to support criminal conduct,— Smith said in a statement.Smith made a similar request to FBI Director Robert Mueller last week, but he has yet to hear back.The ACORN scandal erupted earlier this month when two employees were secretly videotaped advising a couple — conservative activists pretending to be a prostitute and pimp — to lie about her profession and launder her earnings to get housing aid. The videotapes led to the House and Senate voting to de-fund ACORN last week. Republicans have long criticized ACORN for allegedly engaging of voter registration fraud. The latest dust-up brings new momentum to their cause, particularly after the pledge from Fine, the first IG to support a probe into if and how ACORN may have used his agency’s funds.Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine) and House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Monday sent letters to seven more IGs urging them to “review grants, contracts, entitlements and other forms of assistance to ACORN and its affiliates.”Their letters went to the inspectors general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Small Business Administration, the Federal Election Commission, the Treasury Department, the Elections Assistance Commission, the Labor Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service.“At a time when hardworking American families are making tough financial sacrifices, I am appalled by recent reports involving the apparent rampant misuse of taxpayer dollars by ACORN,— Collins said. “During the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, congressional oversight into how the public’s money is spent has never been more important. That is why I am joining Rep. Issa in this urgent request that Inspectors General launch an official investigation.—