[Video] Is the Hypocritical War Against ACORN Unconstitutional?


In the ever-evolving story of the witch-hunt against the community organization, ACORN, Florida Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson and others, have been hammering away on an interesting point about the Defund ACORN Act, which recently passed the House and Senate, and seeks to ban the organization from receiving federal funds: This GOP-led initiative, as written, may actually apply the federal-funding ban to massive defense contractors and other big corporations. There should be no doubt that this was not the intent of Rep. Darrell Issa, the far right Republican who sponsored the legislation, and his cronies who are on a major league witch-hunt of an organization whose real crime is registering poor people and people of color to vote. But since they put this legislation out there, it is a worthwhile discussion of what this would look like.

The Republican sponsors of this bill are, of course, among the most vocal Congressional lobbyists for massive government contracts to scandalous corporations such as Blackwater, KBR/Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, as part of the bloated war budget. The list of their crimes far overshadows the allegations -- and more importantly, the evidence -- against ACORN. "De-fund the crooks," Grayson said. "The numbers of those who have filed fraudulent forms with the government -- it's like a who's who of government contracting." In an interview on Salon Radio, Grayson put out this important statistic: "The amount of money that ACORN has received in the past 20 years altogether is roughly equal to what the taxpayer paid to Halliburton each day during the war in Iraq." For a list of the massive government  contractors who would technically be banned from receiving federal funds under this legislation, see the Project on Oversight and Government Reform’s Contractor Misconduct list. Check out both the fraud category and the revenue one as well and then put that up against ACORN.

What’s more, the Republicans -- and, unfortunately their friends on the other side of the aisle -- are advocating punishing ACORN for the -- as yet legally unresolved-- allegations against a small number of ACORN employees or affiliates. What is painfully ironic about this is that this standard should actually be applied to senior Bush administration officials who authorized, tried to legalize, and oversaw torture and war crimes. It should have applied to the commanders at Abu Ghraib. It should apply to Blackwater’s Erik Prince. They had actual knowledge and complicity at the highest levels. But all of their crimes have been covered up by the tired "bad apple" narrative over and over again. It is never the system that is the problem in the eyes of its powerful beneficiaries. In the case of ACORN, if you really care about facts, then you know that -- at best -- we are talking about the misconduct of a few people (who were fired) and not some top-down criminal enterprise, which is precisely what the Bush administration was and massive war contractors are.

The Defund ACORN Act states that an organization should be banned from receiving federal funding if it "employs any applicable individual, in a permanent or temporary capacity" or "has under contract or retains any applicable individual" who has "been indicted for a violation under any Federal or State law governing the financing of a campaign for election for public office or any law governing the administration of an election for public office, including a law relating to voter registration." Beyond the fact that Karl Rove and other powerful Republicans orchestrated the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias for refusing to cook up a story of voter fraud, which he called a "boogeyman" and conduct a prosecution based on lies and propaganda (remember, ACORN itself reported the registration irregularities that were used against it), this is priceless hypocrisy. Again, take the case of Blackwater, which has had five of its operatives indicted on manslaughter charges for gunning down unarmed civilians while on an official U.S. government contract. A sixth Blackwater operative already pled guilty to killing an unarmed female doctor in Iraq. Blackwater didn’t fire these men, as ACORN did its workers who were set up in a potentially illegal sting operation. No, Blackwater defends this senseless killing by its men.

Or how about the fact that two Blackwater operatives plead guilty to illegal weapons smuggling charges and former employees say the company's owner Erik Prince has smuggled unauthorized weapons into Iraq in dog food bags on his private planes?

The GOP smear machine tries to link ACORN to prostitution. Beyond the hypocrisy of Republicans denouncing prostitutes (long history of using them), do they really want talk of prostitution? One former Blackwater employee recently stated in a sworn declaration that Blackwater owner Erik Prince "failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men." Another former employee described "having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the 'Blackwater Man Camp' [in Iraq] in exchange for one American dollar." [PDF links to these affidavits are here] Even if ACORN did provide inappropriate tax advice to a prostitute, is that really on the same level as this conduct being conducted on a huge U.S. government contract? If you think these are just the allegations of disgruntled employees, read the Justice Department’s perspective on Blackwater’s crimes and how its men "specifically intended to kill" Iraqi civilians as "payback for 9/11."

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