December 1, 2009
Eric Holder, ACORN, and Cloward-Piven Justice
Current law prohibits the community organization ACORN and its associated groups from receiving any federal funds from any federal law currently on the books. However, the Eric Holder Justice Department has interpreted the law as allowing federal agencies to pay ACORN for "binding contractual obligations" made before the current prohibition was enacted. This questionable interpretation may go a long way toward neutralizing ACORN's funding prohibition.
The actual ban reads as follows: "None of the funds made available from this joint resolution or any other prior Act may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or allied organizations." (Emphasis added.)
The Justice Department claims the phrase "provided to" is unclear and "has no established meaning in appropriations law." Justice cites terms more frequently used, such as "obligate" and "expend," that have accepted meaning in spending legislation. Justice goes on to defend its point by exhaustively listing the many definitions of "provide" given in Webster's, Oxford, and American Heritage dictionaries, and even Roget's Thesaurus. Like Bill Clinton, they probably could have found as many definitions for the word "is."
It would be interesting to learn who provided the legislative language for this amendment. It would also be interesting to know whether or not that person (or those people) had input from the Justice Department. Either way, whoever wrote this legislation may have chosen the key phrase "provided to" precisely because it would cause problems in execution. The question is, why didn't Republicans foresee this? Outmaneuvered again?
On the other hand, the Holder Justice Department could simply be flat wrong in its legal reasoning. Not too much of a stretch, considering that Holder decided to drop charges of voter intimidation against the clearly guilty Black Panthers, overruling his own legal staff in the process.
The Justice Department also raised the ugly specter of opening government to liability for breaking "binding contracts," adding that the decision put them on firmer constitutional ground by ensuring that this prohibition was not a "bill of attainder." ACORN is already suing the government, citing the Attainder clause (Art. 1, Sec. 9, Para. 3), which prevents the legislature from singling out an individual or group for punishment without first ascertaining guilt by trial.
At first blush, this seems to be a valid concern. If ACORN engages in legitimate activity for which it is paid by the government and has already made financial commitments in anticipation of reimbursement, then perhaps those obligations already made should be honored. Also, it may be bad precedent to use the legislative process to "punish" ACORN for its misdeeds, if that is Congress's intent.
However, this warrants a question. If ACORN has been engaging in massive, nationwide vote registration fraud, as it has; if it has been encouraging a shopping list of illegal activity through its "housing counseling," as the O'Keefe and Giles tapes demonstrated it has; then why hasn't the Holder Justice Department launched an investigation of ACORN, especially in light of Congress's extraordinary, bipartisan decision to deny ACORN funding? Why don't they settle the matter once and for all by ensuring ACORN's constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial and firmly establish its guilt or innocence?
There is no legitimate reason for the Obama Justice Department not to investigate this organization. But so far, they have refused to. The result is the unprecedented spectacle of a private citizen, Andrew Breitbart, demanding the Justice Department investigate ACORN and threatening to expose even more damaging revelations about the group if they don't!
Furthermore, what legitimate business is ACORN conducting that requires binding prior commitments the government need reimburse? Is ACORN in the aircraft-carrier-building business or something?
Who knows? With this group and its 360-odd identified affiliates, it seems like anything is possible. Perhaps ACORN has been selected to manufacture the 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT hybrid vehicle. (Okay, we needed a little comic relief here.)
According to the Cato Institute, from 2003 to 2007, ACORN received almost $16 million from the government. This was broken down as follows:
- Housing counseling assistance - 62%
- Self-Help Homeownership - 7%
- Rural Housing and Economic Development - 2%
- Fair Housing Initiatives - 4%
- Community Development Block Grants - 26%
Sixty-two percent of payments go to "housing counseling assistance," while block grants provided twenty-six percent. Neither one of these categories should require fulfillment of "prior binding contracts" unless that is interpreted to include costs of ongoing operations. I don't even know what "fair housing initiatives" and "self-help homeownership" are. And if by "economic development" they mean commitments to actual building projects, perhaps reimbursement could be justified, if this referred to a tangible fixed asset already under construction. But this represents only two percent of government payments. I suspect Justice was hoping to let ACORN keep a lot more.
The larger question is this: Should the government be obligated to spend money it has good reason to believe will be used for illegal purposes? If, for example, the U.S. Marshall's Service discovered that it was providing Witness Protection Program funds for "informant relocation" to a private contractor secretly working for the Mafia, wouldn't it stop immediately and move to shut down the entire organization? Wouldn't Congress demand funds be cut off immediately, instead of paying out "existing contracts" and worrying about "bills of attainder"? Of course it would.
Congress is not "punishing" ACORN here. Instead, it is exercising rare good judgment in its oversight role by ensuring that it is not inadvertently spending taxpayer dollars in support of criminal activities. The prohibition against funding ACORN is perfectly legal and constitutional for this reason, according to legal scholars.
ACORN is a key player in the Cloward-Piven Strategy of Manufactured Crisis. As such, its legitimate activities are used to facilitate and/or mask its destructive ones. In this regard, it is similar to a Mafia organization.
Federal law enforcement regularly seizes Mafia business assets, legitimate and otherwise, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes. Never mind "prior financial commitments." The same should be true for ACORN.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform published a paper last summer documenting ACORN's widespread criminal activities and determined that appropriate legal remedies include seizing ACORN assets via RICO. Some of the illegal activities uncovered include:
- ACORN has evaded taxes, obstructed justice, engaged in self-dealing, and aided and abetted a cover-up of the $948,607.50 embezzlement by Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. (Editor's note: Louisiana's Attorney General says the actual figure may be closer to $5 million.)
- ACORN has committed investment fraud, deprived the public of its right to honest services, and engaged in a racketeering enterprise affecting interstate commerce.
- ACORN has conspired to defraud the United States by using taxpayer funds for partisan political activities.
- ACORN has submitted false filings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor, in addition to violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- ACORN falsified and concealed facts concerning an illegal transaction between related parties in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), ranking member on the House Government Reform Committee, has blasted the administration for the Justice ruling. He said that Congress's intent was clear, calling Holder's decision "old-fashioned cronyism."
What the Holder Justice Department has essentially done is present us with a constitutional crisis. If the Constitution demands that an individual or organization be adjudicated guilty or innocent in a court of law before Congress can strip it of funding, then it is incumbent upon the Justice Department to investigate said organization and resolve the question. Yet Obama's Justice Department, under the incompetent (if not criminal) leadership of Eric Holder, refuses to do so.
Let's make something else explicit, also. The ACORN funding ban is attached to a Continuing Resolution, a law that allows the government to continue operations into the new fiscal year (started October 1, 2009) in lieu of appropriations bills that have yet to be passed, which is set to expire on December 18, 2009. Yes, that's eighteen days from now.
The only way this ban can be made permanent is for language to be included in some newer legislation that doesn't expire. It is likely that the Democrats will fight it, too. As it stands, the Justice Department is quibbling over a ban enacted in September that covers a period of two months and eighteen days.
This is all consistent with the Manufactured Crisis Strategy, from giving foreign terrorists the legal protections of U.S. citizens and trying them in a city where they are almost certain to get a mistrial to demanding criminal investigations of CIA officers who believed they were operating under the force of law. From exonerating Black Panther thugs who engaged in voter intimidation to protecting the criminal organization ACORN from even two months of economic sanctions, the Holder Justice Department is doing everything possible to stand justice on its head.
The government should not be paying ACORN at all. It is a malevolent organization devoted to the systematic destruction of America. ACORN needs to be dissolved, its principals arrested and prosecuted. Its assets need to be seized and surrendered to the Asset Forfeiture Fund. This organization needs to be unmercifully trounced into the dirt.
Congress must demand that the FBI investigate ACORN. While they're at it, they might request an investigation of political corruption within the Holder Justice Department. If Holder wants a constitutional showdown to protect Obama's subversive, corrupt political allies, then have at it.
Meanwhile, there is no legitimate reason for ACORN to continue receiving federal funds.