More ACORN Bans in New Congressional Budget

congressionalbudgetNew Orleans    Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan are once again accepting some praise at coming to a deal of sorts on the $1.1 Trillion US budget for this fiscal year without the customary drama and contention.  Speaker Boehner was strutting around at having pushed back the far right, never compromise, Tea Party contingent on the Republican side of the aisle this time around.

            Reading that showing backbone means that they only accepted half of the Heritage Foundation’s demands, gives me some pause, so we’ll have to look more carefully at the details of the budget, because as always the “devil” lives right there in those details.  Nowhere was this more true than finding that once again the efforts at ACORN-shaming continue to be included in the language, adding four new funding “bans” to ACORN and virtually anyone and anything ever involved with the organization and raising the total count to roughly 17 times since 2009 when first pushed through by the nefarious James O’Keefe and his slick editing of videos of ACORN housing advice. 

            Zach Carter of The Huffington Post, shared this analysis:

Not every appropriations bill carries such a provision, however, and while the legislative language tends to be boilerplate, it takes multiple forms. The current appropriations bill contains three distinct versions of the ban on government money to ACORN, each with a minor difference. One of the versions shows up twice.

The first shows up the Department of Defense section:

None of the funds made available under this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries.      

The next appears in the part of the bill dealing with funding for the Department of Homeland Security:

None of the funds made available under this Act or any prior appropriations Act may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations.

The Veterans Affairs funding section contains this language:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries or successors.

And a section on Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development contains an ACORN passage identical to the DHS version.

ACORN, of course, has no affiliates or subsidiaries, because it does not exist anymore. And while the bill does not define the term “successors,” the 2009 legislation to dismantle ACORN defines them as, “Any State chapter of ACORN registered with the Secretary of State’s office in that State,” “any organization that shares directors, employees, or independent contractors with ACORN,” and any organization that “employs” someone “indicted” for violations that ACORN was initially charged with. Most of those characteristics, of course, are irrelevant now that ACORN does not exist, and nobody has been indicted for the offenses the group did not commit.

            Is there no end to this?  Talk about “kicking a dead horse!”   Furthermore, my lawyer, the esteemed Doug Young of Scalan, Buckle & Young in Austin, Texas, says it’s all pretty much just window dressing, since even to define a “successor” would mean proving there had been a concrete financial or similar transaction between ACORN and the entities, but, hey, with all due respect to the lawyers of the land, the whole point of this continued Congressional genuflecting to the rightwing and the whack allegations against ACORN is to intimidate and chill the organizing by low and moderate income families, and to scare away potential funders, whether public or private, who just don’t want the hassle. 

            This has to stop!

 

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What IRS Scandal?

Little Rock  Increasingly the IRS exempt offices controversy is looking more and more like a tempest at a Tea Party.

            When Dave Johnson, a blogger at the Huffington Post, wrote a lead sentence reminding readers that they needed to remember the ACORN manufactured videos when they read about the IRS so-called scandal, he had my full attention.   Looking past the headlines, he brought attention to the testimony of IRS officials that of the 300 applications – out of thousands – they pulled for scrutiny only 70 involved the Tea-people types or less than 25% of the total.  Of the other 230 pulled, many were from progressive or liberal groups, some of which were actually denied, and that happened to none of the Tea applications. 

            For evidence Johnson didn’t have to look too hard. 

From the Congressional hearing record:

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-IL: “How come only conservative groups got snagged?”

Outgoing acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller: “They didn’t sir. Organizations of all walks and all persuasions were pulled in. That’s shown by the fact that only 70 of the 300 organizations were tea party organizations, of the ones that were looked at by TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration].”

             And, from business source Bloomberg in an article appropriately entitled, “IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats that Fed Tea Party Row:”

“One of those groups, Emerge America, saw its tax-exempt status denied, forcing it to disclose its donors and pay some taxes. None of the Republican groups have said their applications were rejected. Progress Texas … faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries.

In a statement late yesterday, the tax agency said it had pooled together the politically active nonpartisan applicants — including a “minority” that were identified because of their names. “It is also important to understand that the group of centralized cases included organizations of all political views,” the IRS said in its statement.”

            Johnson also makes the very good point that most of the applications drowning the IRS in the wake of the Supreme Court’s  Citizen United decision, which opened the floodgates for corporate political contributions and the special c4 exempt status that allowed all of these operations to keep the names of the donors on secret, got a free ride and were approved with no questions asked.  A mixed bag from all over the political map had to fill out some forms for additional information, but most of those including what appears to be all of the Tea Party related applicants ended up being approved. 

            Once again it is worth remembering that “things are not always the way they seem,” especially when we are being manipulated by many to only see what they want us to see.

IRS Scandal Audio Blog

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