A video expose that caught workers at the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now giving advice on how to obtain federal funds to run a brothel is gave lawmakers a new reason to restart attempts to kill the organization’s federal funding.
Many Republicans were calling for cutting off ACORN’s federal funds last fall amid allegations of the group’s involvement in voter registration fraud schemes during the election. That push began again on Monday when GOP Sen. Mike Johanns, Nebraska, successfully added an amendment to a housing and transportation bill to strike all ACORN funding from the legislation. This is a significant blow to the group which has a large program designed to help the poor get housing and fight foreclosure generously supported with federal money.
Although the GOP was not succesful in prohibiting ACORN from accessing stimulus funding in a vote earlier this year, they were able to pull the plug on some of ACORN’s federal funds Monday after the shocking expose was aired on Fox News and extensively covered on conservative-leaning blogs.
The Johanns amendment was added to the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 83-7 Monday evening.The seven senators voting against it were: Illinios Sen. Roland Burris, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, New York Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Each of them are Democrats, except Mr. Sanders who is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
Those senators can be expected to be targeted by the GOP for standing by the beleaguered organization in the days ahead. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a press release targeting freshman Sen. Gillibrand soon after the vote ended, questioning why she would protect the ACORN.
“With ACORN’s highly-publicized and potentially illegal activities taking place in her own state, why does Kirsten Gillibrand believe the tax dollars of hard working New Yorkers should continue to go to this controversial organization?” asked NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh in the statement.
Democrats may be forced to pass more amendments like this in the coming weeks, too.
“I’d love to do this across the board,” Mr. Johanns told The Washington Times on the phone hours before the vote. “But we are not going to stop here, we are going to follow the ACORN money.”
“Their story just gets worse and worse,” Mr. Johanns said. “We’ve got state investigations of voter fraud and criminal activity and charges pending and then the videos surface where people literally went to different ACORN offices and were very up front they were going to run a prostitution ring and they got advice for how they could list it on a tax reform so it wouldn’t be obvious.”
“That’s as outrageous as it gets,” he added.
Republicans say ACORN has gotten $54 million in federal funds since 1994.
The videos capturing ACORN workers giving advice on how to conceal a prostitution ring were recorded by James O’Keefe, who posed as a pimp and Hannah Giles, who pretended she was a prostitute, during their sit-down talks with ACORN workers. Those videos were posted on www.biggovernment.com and widely covered by Fox News. The pair conducted stings at ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York City.