Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann wrote that, after her amendment passed preventing “organizations, or employees of organizations, that have been indicted for voter fraud from being eligible for the housing counseling grants and legal assistance grants authorized under the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act”, Chairman Frank’s staff approached her staff to see if they could change the language of the amendment:
Later that day, Chairman Frank said he had reservations about my amendment and would discuss them with me. His staff approached mine with specific changes he would like to make, changes which eviscerate the meaning of the amendment and were clearly not acceptable. Again, this was puzzling given that it is identical to the language Chairman Frank included in HERA just last year.
Their changes include: Raising the bar from indictment to conviction to preclude an organization from getting taxpayer dollars, limiting the time the ban is in effect, and applying the standard to only senior employees. We’re talking about giving tax dollars to organizations that could be mixed up in criminal actions. Are we expected to keep forking over tax dollars to these organization when they’re under the cloud of suspicion of a public criminal indictment?
This morning, news broke that says why Chairman Frank wants those changes:
Here’s what the Las Vegas Journal-Review is reporting:
In all, there are 26 charges of compensation for registration of voters and 13 charges of being a “principal” in the alleged crimes. An initial hearing has been set for 7:30 a.m. June 3 in Las Vegas Justice Court. “In Nevada, it is unlawful for a person to provide compensation for registering voters that is based on the total number of voters a person registers,” state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said.
ACORN’s canvassers, she said, had to gather at least 20 voter registrations a day to keep their jobs. There also was a bonus program, known as “blackjack” or “21 plus,” which rewarded employees with $5 extra per shift if they brought in 21 or more completed registrations, she said. Canvassers under pressure to keep their jobs turned in registrations with fake names and phony addresses, even, in one case, the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys, authorities alleged.
“These practices are clearly a violation of Nevada law,” Masto said. “By structuring employment and compensation around a quota system, ACORN facilitated voter registration fraud in this state.” The organization is being targeted, she added, because it shouldn’t “hide behind or place blame on its employees” when the group’s policies required “illegal acts in performing the job.”
Based on this reporting, I’d say it’s likely that these charges will turn into guilty pleas, which I hope will turn into a hefty fine for ACORN. ACORN’s Nevada spokesman, Scott Levenson, quickly started spinning the story:
Scott Levenson, an ACORN spokesman, said that the group cooperated in the investigation and that charging the organization is “frightfully absurd.”
“We’re a bit appalled at the political grandstanding on the part of the attorney general’s office,” he said. “This individual case is truly a situation where, the organization that was most harmed is the organization that is being charged.”
What’s “frightfully absurd” is Mr. Levenson thinking that ACORN’s policies didn’t contribute to, if not directly cause, their employees’ allegedly illegal activity. Had ACORN not put these policies in place, they might’ve had a leg to stand on. What’s worse is that ACORN knew about these policies long ago AND DID NOTHING to correct their irresponsible policies.
Now Mr. Levenson wants us to pretend that ACORN is blameless in all this? I don’t think so.
Based on this post, I’d say that Rep. Bachmann hasn’t backed off her original position. In fact, she’s still asking the right question and fighting the right fight:
My amendment would keep organizations that are under indictment for voter fraud or other criminal activities, or that employ people indicted for such crimes, from accessing billions of your tax dollars. Groups such as ACORN are repeatedly charged with violating the law and the public trust, yet they continue to access taxpayer funds. The threshold for gaining taxpayer funding should not be so low.
Interestingly, the Associated Press reported Monday that Nevada authorities filed criminal charges against ACORN and two former employees for voter registration fraud.
Last week I asked: Whose side are we on: The taxpayer’s or ACORN’s? Chairman Frank still has the opportunity to side with taxpayers by upholding the decision of the Financial Services Committee to implement the highest standard and withhold taxpayer dollars from funding organizations when they’re under the cloud of suspicion of a public criminal indictment.
Whatever happened to the principle of the carrot and the stick? Based on his actions, I’d say that Chairman Frank believes in a principle best described as ‘a kinder and gentler carrot and stick’ policy. Thoughtful people would recognize Frank’s approach as being a carrots without the stick approach.
Here’s the answer to Rep. Bachmann’s question: Chairman Frank won’t side with the taxpayers. He’ll side with the alleged hoodlums because they’re working to help him stay in the majority. That’s often referred to as an ends justifies the means strategy.
Something bigger is at stake here, though. Chairman Frank isn’t the only liberal in leadership who doesn’t want liberal wrongdoers punished. Speaker Pelosi is attempting to prevent an ethics investigation into several corrupt Democrats, including Military Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha:
House Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have ratcheted up the pressure on their rank-and-file members to oppose a resolution calling for an ethics committee investigation into the ties between key Democrats and a controversial defense-lobbying firm.
Democratic leaders have told their members they should let the ethics panel do its work and stop supporting a measure sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that calls for an ethics probe into political donations from the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm and earmarks its clients received.
With Congress back in session, Democratic leaders plan to lean on their members again this week or next. The pressure appears to be working. Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Tim Walz (D-MN), two of more than two dozen Democrats who supported Flakeâ€™s measure in the latest vote, on April 1, are now wavering.
Pelosi’s lap dogs are now falling into line with her ‘see no ethics violations’ policies. Starting immediately, John Q. Public should expect Speaker Pelosi to actually fdo what she said she’d do, namely, to drain the swamp in Washington. Thus far, she hasn’t done a thing about the swamp.
If John Q. Public wants Washington’s swamp drained, it won’t happen with this bunch of Democrats because they’re too addicted to ACORN’s work and Murtha’s pork.
Cross-posted at California Conservative