What fun is it to be President if you can’t take care of your friends. Matthew Vadum has uncovered a special $3.83 billion slush fund the President’s new budget sent to congress yesterday.
The money would come from the the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) $48.5 billion fiscal 2011 budget. CDBG grants, which are awarded to states and localities, then pass to groups such as ACORN.
How is more funding of ACORN possible when Congress passed a ban on funding the group and its affiliates just last year?
Congress has already hinted it might vote to restore funding to ACORN. On Dec. 8 the House Appropriations Committee rejected on a party line vote of 9 to 5 an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) that would have blocked federal funding of ACORN.
And in December federal Judge Nina Gershon restored federal funding of ACORN by issuing a temporary injunction against the congressional funding ban. The Brooklyn-based Gershon, a Bill Clinton appointee, determined that depriving ACORN of taxpayer dollars was an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” that singled out ACORN for punishment without trial.
You might be familiar with Gershon’s oeuvre. In 1999 she ruled then-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani had no right to cut off city funding of the Brooklyn Museum of Art when it displayed dead animals and a painting of the Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung.
Gershon’s order covered the federal government’s temporary spending legislation that expired Dec. 18 but ACORN is asking that the injunction be modified to cover the remainder of fiscal 2010, which ends Sept. 30. If the litigation drags on, ACORN will undoubtedly seek another modification to cover fiscal 2011.
In the same court order Gershon also blocked the Obama administration from cutting off funding for ACORN, as Office of Management and Budget director Peter R. Orszag had ordered in a directive dated Oct. 7.
The judge’s ruling could be made permanent when the case goes to trial, a move that would help to shore up ACORN’s finances.
But an official with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York told me yesterday it was unclear when ACORN v. U.S.A. would proceed to trial. At this point ACORN and the government are still filing motions and other documents with the court, he said.
Although ACORN is President Obama’s favorite activist group, his administration has done the right thing by appealing Gershon’s ruling. Then again, it was the Obama administration in the first place that started looking for ways to keep tax dollars flowing to ACORN. In a legal memo unveiled by the Justice Department in November, the Obama administration invented a loophole that allowed the government to continue funding ACORN.
ACORN funding is important to the progressives in Congress and in the White House, think of it as the closest thing to federal funding of political campaigns. People shouldn’t think that all ACORN does is help pimps and hookers buy houses, they serve the community in so many other ways, including embezzlement of donated funds, voter fraud, and the progressives favorite, using tax exempt dollars to help get liberal candidates elected.
In December Congressmen Smith and Issa presented documentation indicating that ACORN already transferred many of its resources to several other left-wing advocacy and political groups including several chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and possibly Data and Field Services, the Working Families Party, Change to Win and the Council for Unity, and others. Anita Moncrief, former ACORN employee told the panel the organization continually got federal block grants but did not use the grants for helping the poor as promised. Rather, ACORN “used the money to fund the political machine… Poverty is big business for ACORN.