The Washington Times - September 22, 2009, 01:19PM

A powerful group of GOP lawyers is demanding that government officials open an investigation to determine if the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has used government funds for illegal purposes.

And, they’re making those demands directly to House Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Rep. Jerrold Nalder, New York, who has said he would consider holding a hearing “if I ever hear any credible allegations” about the group. Now that a pair of activist filmmakers have exposed ACORN workers giving advice on how to obtain federal funds to run a brothel the Republican National Lawyers Association says the evidence is piled high enough to get that hearing. RNLA put a web video out Tuesday that replayed Mr. Nadler’s remarks.


“Prostitution. Sex trafficking. Fraud. Credible enough, Mr. Chairman?” the ad says.

The House recently voted to prohibit any more tax dollars to going to ACORN, but Mr. Nadler was among the few who would not support the measure. He argued doing so would be “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Mr. Nadler said in a statement on the House floor that the vote to defund ACORN “was done in the spirit of the moment and nobody had the opportunity to point out that this is a flat violation of the Constitution, constituting a Bill of Attainder. The Constitution says that Congress shall never pass a Bill of Attainder. Bills of Attainder, no matter what their form, apply either to a named individual or to easily ascertainable members of a group, to inflict punishment. That’s exactly what this amendment does.”

“It may be that ACORN is guilty of various infractions, and, if so, it ought to be vetted, or maybe sanctioned, by the appropriate administrative agency or by the judiciary,” he said. “Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial.”

Cleta Mitchell, co-chairman of RNLA, said Mr. Nadler isn’t taking the charges against ACORN seriously and he needs to hold a hearing to track down how their federal dollars have been spent. Republican critics of ACORN estimate the group has gotten close to $54 million since 1994.

“When you get federal money you get it for a special purpose and you are supposed to spend it for that purpose and certify at the end of each fiscal year it was spent for that purpose,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “I don’t see how they could have possibly made those representations truthfully to the federal government.”

ACORN officials have said they would hold their own investigation to determine where their group went wrong, to be conducted by their advisory council, which includes Center for American Progress President John Podesta and Clinton administration Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry G. Cisneros.

Mrs. Mitchell said they could not be relied on to get ACORN’s accounting in order. “That board is made up of compromised liberal, Democratic partisans who have vested political interests in trying to save ACORN,” she said.

Mr. Nadler’s press office did return calls for comment about the RLNA ad.