Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The Senate voted Monday to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from giving grants to ACORN, a community organization under fire in several voter-registration fraud cases.
The 83 to 7 vote would deny housing and community grant funding to ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
The action came as the group is suffering from bad publicity after a duo of conservative activists, who posed as a prostitute and her pimp, released hidden-camera videos in which ACORN employees in Baltimore gave advice on home buying and how to account on tax forms for the woman's income. Other videos depict similar situations in ACORN offices in Brooklyn and the District.
The Senate's move would mean that ACORN would not be able to win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages and for fair-housing education and outreach.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said that ACORN has received $53 million in taxpayer funds since 1994 and that the group was eligible for a wider set of funding in the pending legislation, which funds housing and transportation programs.
Just last week, the Census Bureau severed its ties with ACORN, saying it does not want the group's help in outreach efforts on the decennial count.
In recent months, Republicans have become increasingly critical of the census' ties with ACORN. The group, which advocates for poor people, conducted a massive voter-registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some employees were accused of submitting false registration forms.