Senate Votes to Block ACORN Grants
The Senate passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would prohibit the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Transportation from giving grants to the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN), or its subsidiaries. ACORN is an activist group that represents the interests of minorities and low- and moderate-income individuals. More and more the non-profit is getting involved in the housing market (see September issue of HousingWire for in-depth coverage). For the vote, held yesterday, the amendment passed 83-7. It introduced by Nebraska Republican Sen. Mike Johanns and co-sponsored by 14 additional Republican senators. In a statement on his Senate Web site, Johanns said the amendment’s passage was a bipartisan move to stop tax dollars from supporting fraudulent organizations and activities. Last week, ACORN was criticized after a filmmaker allegedly dressed as a pimp and an associate dressed as a prostitute, used hidden cameras to create a video allegedly showing employees of an ACORN Housing office explaining how to fraudulently obtain a mortgage to start a brothel. ACORN Housing, an ACORN subsidiary group that provides home ownership counseling to minorities and low-income borrowers, said the employees have been fired and called the incident a smear campaign. In a statement, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called the amendment a “rare and politically convenient step of supporting eliminating some federal funding for a single organization,” adding the group is funded primarily through private donations and “will have little impact on overall operations.” Write to Austin Kilgore.