The Minnesota congresswoman's call for action comes after Nevada officials filed voter registration fraud charges against the group, and Pennsylvania authorities charged seven local ACORN workers with forging voter registration forms.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann called on Congress Thursday to block ACORN's access to federal housing funds, citing repeated charges of voter registration fraud against the low-income advocacy group.
The Republican congresswoman, flanked by an ACORN whistleblower and an attorney who worked on an ACORN case in Pennsylvania, escalated a media offensive against the group, which is a favorite target of conservatives who claim liberals are unjustly protecting a dysfunctional organization by allowing it access to taxpayer money.
"ACORN, as you know, is no stranger to the spotlight," Bachmann said outside the Capitol. "Yet no matter how many times prosecutors investigate and even indict ACORN and their employees, they emerge unblemished as far as the federal government is concerned from having access to federal tax dollars."
Bachmann, who hit the same themes in an op-ed in the Washington Times on Wednesday, complained that House Democrats killed her amendment to block organizations indicted for voter fraud from receiving federal housing money. She said ACORN has received at least $53 million in tax dollars since 1994, and that she will have new legislation in the coming weeks.
"We simply believe that the bar needs to be very high," she said.
The call for congressional action comes after Nevada officials filed voter registration fraud charges against ACORN last week, and Pennsylvania authorities charged seven local ACORN workers with forging voter registration forms.
In the Nevada case, officials alleged the group illegally based employment and compensation on a quota system for voter registration. The group required canvassers to register 20 voters per shift or be fired, officials said, and gave bonus money to canvassers who registered more than 20 people.
ACORN issued a response to Bachmann Thursday accusing the congresswoman of "partisan witch hunts."
ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson also recently told FOX News that the group does not institute a quota system as a matter of national policy, but that in Nevada, "We had a bad employee."
But Anita MonCrief, the ACORN whistleblower, echoed Bachmann in describing the advocacy group as a sham. She said senior staffers train employees to avoid asking whether people are already registered to vote when they sign up residents, resulting in "thousands and thousands" of duplicates, and criminal problems for the employees.
"The employees were being thrown under the bus," she said. "[Senior staff] stood on the backs of the poor in order to make money for their organization."
Attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, who appeared with Bachmann, accused lawmakers and the mainstream media of avoiding the ACORN issue.
"We've had a swine flu scare here in the United States. I think there's denial flu in Congress," she said. "It's either a case of serious denial or complicity."
In its written statement, ACORN said MonCrief worked for Project Vote, not ACORN (the two groups often work together). And the group said MonCrief "was fired by Project Vote in 2008 for stealing money from the organization."