Smith Calls For Special Counsel to Investigate ACORN
House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on Tuesday called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a progressive community organizing group accused of engaging in voter registration fraud and other criminal activity.In a statement, Smith accused the Obama administration of engaging in “political favoritism— when handling other complaints against its allies. “Political favoritism has no place at the Justice Department,— Smith said. “We’ve already seen this administration dismiss one case against a political ally — the New Black Panther Party — for no apparent reason. I remain concerned that politicization at the Justice Department once again may result in the administration’s political friends getting a free pass.—Brian Kettenring, a spokesman for ACORN, argued that despite GOP complaints that the organization is corrupt, there is no evidence thus far of serious problems. He said Smith and others are trying to give their political opponents legitimacy.“Rep. Smith’s call tries to give a serious tone to what are essentially manufactured media allegations,— Kettenring said.Smith has been one of the GOP’s leaders in attacking ACORN over the last several months and has been pushing for a number of DOJ and Congressional investigations in the group. Smith and a group of other top Republicans last month also began a push to cut off private funding to ACORN after their successful campaign to cut federal ties with the group.In a letter sent to Holder on Tuesday, Smith said he is concerned that “President [Barack] Obama’s previous advocacy on behalf of [ACORN] … may present a conflict of interest for any Department of Justice consideration of criminal allegations against ACORN. I therefore request that you appoint a Special Counsel to oversee any Department investigation.—“The President’s ties create the appearance of improper political influence that will otherwise taint any conclusions the Department may reach with regard to whether or not to investigate and prosecute ACORN employees or affiliated individuals,— he said in the letter.Republicans have long used independent and special counsels to hammer Democratic administrations: During the 1990s, Congress pressed the DOJ to launch special counsel and independent counsel inquiries into a host of Clinton-era scandals, including the Whitewater and Travelgate controversies.