ACORN doesn’t exist, but House Republicans are consumed with the idea of defending it to the point where they have held numerous, pointless votes (12 and counting) to do just that.
For a party that claims to be all about fiscal responsibility and reducing the debt, why are we paying them to be seat warmers, for holding meaningless votes to defund nonexistent organizations or repealing laws that will not pass the Senate or see the president’s desk?
The Huffingtonpost asked this very question.
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, does not exist. And it did not exist at any time when the House GOP has held a vote on ACORN’s access to government monies — the group disbanded in the spring of 2010.
Just why, exactly, the House GOP keeps voting to ban funding for an organization that was extinguished more than three years ago remains something of a mystery, and the subject of Democratic ridicule.
“Word is the majority will also prohibit foreign aid to the Ottoman Empire this year,” a Democratic congressional aide snarked to HuffPost. (Like ACORN, the Ottoman Empire does not exist.) “Thirteen votes to defund a program that no longer exists. Forty votes to repeal a health care law that is transforming millions of lives,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), comparing the anti-ACORN legislation to the House GOP’s routine votes to repeal Obamacare. “If their agenda is to do nothing on a timeline of never, they’re setting record pace.”
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to comment on the ACORN legislation and directed questions to Jennifer Hing, spokeswoman for the GOP majority on the House Appropriations Committee. Hing has repeatedly told HuffPost that the defunding of ACORN is a “standard provision” that goes into most appropriations bills.
Unlike most anti-poverty groups, ACORN was actually staffed by low-income people. The organization was never popular among conservative political groups. Republican politicians and right-wing activists had targeted the organization for decades, accusing ACORN of broad voter fraud conspiracies without ever turning up anything other than a few isolated, usually accidental, violations.
All of that changed in the fall of 2009, when conservative provocateur James O’Keefe released selectively edited videos that appeared to show ACORN employees offering advice on tax avoidance related to prostitution and child smuggling. Independent investigations by the California attorney general, the Massachusetts attorney general and the Brooklyn, N.Y., district attorney would later clear ACORN of criminal wrongdoing, and an investigation by the Government Accountability Office would clear the group of charges that it mishandled federal funds.
Before these investigations were completed, however, Congress cut off federal funding for ACORN using broad language that applied to any organization that had been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws or campaign finance laws or with filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. The funding ban also extended to any employees, contractors or others affiliated with any group so charged.
The funding ban passed in the fall of 2009, and in early 2010, an empty-coffered ACORN disbanded. The House GOP has continued to bar the group from receiving federal cash ever since