IRS Throws ACORN Under the Bus

The IRS yesterday severed its ties with ACORN, the profoundly corrupt community organizing group embroiled in a seemingly never-ending string of controversies, criminal investigations and voter registration fraud charges.  Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau also severed ties with the group.

The latest controversy is over the series of videos covertly taped by new media journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles.  In these videos, O’Keefe and Giles, posing as a pimp and prostitute, are given tax advice by ACORN representatives in different cities across the country.  

The tax advice included listing “performance artist” as the prostitute’s employment code in order to file income taxes as part of a scheme to secure a loan, with ACORN’s help, to buy a house to be used as a brothel.  ACORN employees didn’t flinch when the undercover journalists informed them they were trafficking in 12 underage El Salvadoran girls to work in the brothel.  One helpful ACORN representative advised that they may be able to claim two or three of them as dependents.

According to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House Republican leader, ACORN had received upwards of $56 million in direct federal taxpayer funding since 1994.  Boehner, Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee with IRS oversight responsibilities, sent a letter to the IRS asking that the agency end its relationship with the group.

“For the second time in less than two weeks, a federal agency has severed its ties with ACORN,” Boehner said.  “The IRS has rightly recognized that this troubled organization has no place advising hard-working Americans on tax-related matters.”

“ACORN has violated serious federal laws, and it is a victory for all taxpayers that the IRS has ended its association with this corrupt organization,” Cantor said.

“It is clear ACORN was using taxpayer funds to encourage others to engage in cheating the tax code,” Camp said.  “The IRS made the right call and now it is time for the rest of the federal government to end any and all relationships with this corrupt organization.”  

Now about that ACORN IRS tax-exempt status…

Barney Frank Throws ACORN under the Bus

On Fox News last night, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), told host Bill O’Reilly he would have voted for the ban on ACORN funding had he not missed the vote for the posthumous Medal of Honor ceremony for constituent Sgt. Jared Monti last week at the White House.

“I told the staffer who asked me that I would have been against the funding,” Frank said.  “I said it imprecisely or he heard it imprecisely, and he heard it as I would have been against the motion.  I would have voted for the recommittal motion and against the funding. … I think they have forfeited their right to get funds.”

In other news, a pig just flew by my window.

Meanwhile, back in the Senate…

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday refused to investigate ACORN’s criminal activities and the sources of federal funding that ACORN and its affiliates receive. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), along with 27 other Republican Senators, asked the Majority Leader back on September 17th to start the investigation.

“Despite the fact that the U.S. Senate has at its disposal 20 committees, 68 subcommittees, and 4 joint committees, the Majority Leader has denied our request, stating he will not instruct Senate leaders ‘to do anything that would distract from efforts to address’ the issues currently before Congress,” Cornyn said.  “Yet under the direction of this same Majority Leader, in conjunction with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congress has held more than 150 oversight hearings on Bush-era practices and activities — transcribing more than 3,200 pages of witness testimony and printing more than 17,000 pages of unclassified, publicly available reports.  For Majority Leader Reid, it seems that ‘oversight’ is a selective responsibility, and the misuse of taxpayer dollars by a fraud-ridden organization does not qualify as a priority in his purview as the Leader of the U.S. Senate.”

ACORN Sues Journalists

In an incredibly dumb move, ACORN filed a lawsuit yesterday against new media journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles as well as Andrew Breitbart whose new Big Government website launched with the release of the sting videos.

What attorney wouldn’t jump to represent the trio in this high profile case?  Not only has ACORN opened itself — and its books — up to broad discovery afforded by this type of lawsuit, but now we’ll all be treated to the videotaped depositions and document drops on Breitbart’s websites.

Pop the popcorn.

Obama Administration Supports Renewal of Patriot Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee today begins the amendment process on reauthorization of the Patriot Act.  With their liberal base apoplectic, the Obama administration has recommended complete reauthorization.  

That governing thing’s a real bear, isn’t it?

I caught up to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican the Senate Judicary Committee, yesterday during a break at the Judiciary hearing opening remarks to ask about his concerns over some of the amendments, particularly with attempts by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) to gut provisions for the roving wiretaps of terrorists and the lawsuit immunity protections afforded telecomm companies who provide critical information to law enforcement.

“We do expect an amendment by Feingold and others that will go too far,” Sessions said.  “I’m a little troubled by Chairman Leahy’s suggestions for constricting the act some, not much, but I don’t think it’s necessary.  We’ll be having a look at that.  But I think it’s important to emphasize that the powers given to our intelligence agencies and the FBI by the Patriot Act don’t go beyond what powers law enforcement have had before.  If any agencies are going to have these powers it ought to be the people trying to protect us from foreign attacks.”

“Also we’ve recognized in the world of intelligence and warfare that we have enemies out there,” Sessions added.  “For example, our Central Intelligence Agency around the world is tapping phones of diplomats and spies and counterspies every day — we hope — and every now and then they come up with critical intelligence that’s important to our foreign policy or to our national security.  I think the Patriot Act is far more carefully written than a lot of people realize, and actually pretty restrictive — far more restrictive than the normal law enforcement powers that are similar in America.  So we need to do this, it’s important to our national security.  I’m pleased that the Obama administration understands that and even they have recommended that it be passed as ‘reauthorized completely.’”

We’ll be keeping close watch on this markup.

Senate Health Care Markup Marathon

The monster markup continues in the Senate Finance Committee as they attempt the impossible: making a bill that no one supports into a bill that someone other than the bill’s author will support.  Of note yesterday, from the Senate Republican Conference:

Amendment to Preserve Seniors’ Medicare Advantage Plans Rejected 9-14; R 1-9; D 0-13

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-Utah) AMENDMENT #D7: “This amendment would strike the Medicare advantage provisions of the chairman’s mark if CBO certifies that beneficiaries currently participating in the Medicare advantage program will lose plan benefits when the Medicare part c reductions are implemented by the centers of Medicare and Medicaid services. CBO is required to make this certification 3 months after the enactment of the health reform bill.”

Amendment to Provide Legislative Language and CBO Score Rejected 11-12; R 10-0; D 1-12

SEN. JIM BUNNING (R-Ky.) AMENDMENT #C4: “This amendment requires that before the Finance Committee can vote on final passage Of ‘America’s Healthy Future Act Of 2009,’ the legislative language must be publically available on the Finance Committee’s website for at least 72 hours.”

And of very special note, comments on the health care bill’s estimated cost made by the CBO director in Tuesday’s Senate Finance hearing.

CBO DIRECTOR DOUGLAS ELMENDORF: “A formal cost estimate would require, we have said this to people on the House and Senate side, would really require two weeks of work by us, once a package is settled. And that may seem like a long time, but it — there are a lot of complications in doing this right, as you need it to be done and it is the interaction effects among the provisions, it is reading the legislative language. Our official cost estimates are based on reading of actual language, very complicated to write this language and to interpret it correctly, and that often involves a certain amount of iteration between us and the staff of the relevant committees. We also need to develop a more complete budget presentation rather than just the effects on the deficit, which is the way we have been summarizing for you so far.  So we’ve told all the people who’ve asked that it will take us about two weeks to do a formal cost estimate after we have a full bill, but as I said we can do an updated preliminary analysis more quickly than that.” (Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 9/22/09)