GOP Ups Pressure on Democrats to Investigate ACORN

Posted September 23, 2009 at 4:13pm

Updated: 5:19 p.m.

Congressional Republicans on Wednesday sought to intensify the pressure on Democratic leaders to launch a series of investigations into the community organizing group ACORN, accusing the majority party of “selectively— conducting oversight.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday night shot down a GOP request for an ACORN inquiry by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). Reid argued it would be a “distraction— to task the Senate Finance Committee or other panels with jurisdiction over the organization at a time when lawmakers are working on health care reform, climate change legislation and other issues.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has been involved in a number of scandals, including that its organizers engaged in voter fraud during the 2008 election. More recently, conservatives taped members of the group giving advice to a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute on ways to hide their money and to defraud the government.

The House and Senate have since voted to bar the organization from receiving federal funding.

In a statement released Wednesday, Cornyn accused Reid and Democrats of selectively choosing when to engage in oversight. He said Democrats have decided to focus on Republicans and Bush-era issues, while ignoring the activities of organizations such as ACORN that typically back Democrats.

“Despite the fact that the U.S. Senate has at its disposal 20 committees, 68 subcommittees, and 4 joint committees, the Majority Leader has denied our request, stating he will not instruct Senate leaders ‘to do anything that would distract from efforts to address’ the issues currently before Congress,— Cornyn said in a statement, adding that, “under the direction of this same Majority Leader, in conjunction with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congress has held more than 150 oversight hearings on Bush-era practices and activities — transcribing more than 3,200 pages of witness testimony and printing more than 17,000 pages of unclassified, publicly available reports. For Majority Leader Reid, it seems that ‘oversight’ is a selective responsibility, and the misuse of taxpayer dollars by a fraud-ridden organization does not qualify as a priority in his purview as the Leader of the U.S. Senate.—

With the likelihood of ACORN oversight hearings in the Senate dead for now, Vitter on Wednesday asked Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations investigation into ACORN. And in the House, Republican Members continued their campaign against the embattled group.

Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking members of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, respectively, called for a Government Accountability Office investigation into ACORN’s use of government funds since 1994.

“Since 1994 ACORN has received over $53 million in federal funds, yet it has been plagued with numerous instances of wrong-doing and fraud,— Smith and Issa wrote Wednesday in a letter to Gene Dodaro, the acting comptroller general of the GAO. “Members of Congress have the responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used according to the purpose for which they are appropriated.—

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday also praised the decision by the Internal Revenue Service to cut its ties with ACORN. The IRS decision follows the decision by the Census Bureau to sever its contract with ACORN.

“For the second time in less than two weeks, a federal agency has severed its ties with ACORN. The IRS has rightly recognized that this troubled organization has no place advising hard-working Americans on tax-related matters. I’d like to applaud Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) for their efforts in holding the IRS accountable on this critical issue,— Boehner said in a statement.