"Congress has a right and a responsibility to set the terms and
conditions under which organizations are eligible to receive funding.
And it has a duty to make sure that corrupt organizations like ACORN
are no longer on the taxpayer dole."—ALG President Bill Wilson
September 18th, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today defended the constitutionality of the House-approved "Defund ACORN Act" against charges by Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) that the bill is designed to "inflict punishment" on ACORN "without trial."
Yesterday, in a floor speech, Nadler claimed that the legislation was a "bill of attainder."
"The 'Defund ACORN Act' is actually not aimed at one group—it is a standard by which all recipients of federal funds will be held," said Wilson. "Congress has the power to state the terms under which organizations are eligible to receive funding. In this case, it has barred any organization from receiving funding that has engaged in voter registration fraud, does not abide by lobbying disclosure requirements, or has tried to defraud the government."
"Furthermore, under Congressman Nadler's reading, cutting off any organization's or business' federal dollars would be a 'bill of attainder.' Nadler's statement is just simply wrong. It would mean nobody's budget could ever be cut," Wilson added. "There is no 'right' to federal funding."
According to the legislation, no organization may receive funding that 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… had its State corporate charter terminated due to its failure to comply with Federal or State lobbying disclosure requirements… [or] has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency."
This followed action this week in the Senate, which voted 83-7 to prohibit ACORN from receiving housing grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The House legislation now proceeds to the Senate.
Wilson called on the Senate to approve the language of the legislation and get it to Barack Obama's desk. "The Senate did not go far enough. It only cut ACORN's funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development."
ACORN is currently eligible for over $500 million of an "affordable housing fund" created under the $300 billion Foreclosure Prevention Act passed in 2008. According to the Consumer Rights League, ACORN receives some 40 percent of its funding from taxpayers annually. This fiscal year it has received $1.6 million received thus far for housing services.
ACORN was also made eligible for more than $3 billion under the $787 billion "stimulus" spending bill, and $5.5 billion from the 2010 budget. Since 1994, ACORN has received at least $53 million from American taxpayers.
Wilson concluded, "Congress has a right and a responsibility to set the terms and conditions under which organizations are eligible to receive funding. And it has a duty to make sure that partisan political or corrupt organizations like ACORN are no longer on the taxpayer dole."