Photo by George Lauby
Sen. Mike Johanns
On Monday, my colleagues in the Senate rose above partisan loyalties to support my amendment that will prevent tax dollars from supporting an organization shrouded in controversy: ACORN. Employees of ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) have been convicted of irresponsible, fraudulent, and at times illegal behavior, and I took action to protect taxpayers.
The federal government has long provided funding to many services and organizations on the premise that its recipients put the money to good use.
Our government funds the construction of roads, bridges, and public areas; and community service organizations that assist the less fortunate and promote the public interest.
But ACORN's employees have established an alarming pattern of deception over time that demonstrates they do not deserve taxpayer support.
ACORN employees have been arrested for voter fraud in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and most recently Miami.
These offices have been raided by federal agents and local authorities and found to have falsified voter registration forms.
Last year in Miami, one office was found to have falsified 888 registration cards out of about 1,400. That means ACORN falsified close to three voter registrations for each legitimate one -- and that was just in Miami.
Even more shocking are videotapes that have been emerging reportedly from ACORN offices in New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
The tapes appear to feature ACORN employees offering advice on a host of illegal activities, including tax evasion, fraud, and even prostitution. Coinciding with the release of the tapes was the Census Bureau's announcement Friday that it is severing all ties with ACORN for work on the 2010 Census.
My amendment blocks federal funding in the transportation and housing appropriations bill from going to ACORN, which has received $53 million through Congress since 1994, according to a recent report.
The thought of more federal dollars going to this organization is unthinkable.
In July, the House Oversight Committee minority staff published a report, and based on their investigation described ACORN as: "Ö a shell game played in 120 cities and 43 states Ö a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators."
Itís clear that ACORNís employees have undermined our country's democratic process, our laws, and our good faith. I am proud that Senators overwhelmingly stood up at a time when every dollar is critical to our taxpayers and our economy, and said 'no' to letting tax payer money continue to bankroll an organization besieged by so much controversy and allegations of wrongdoing.
I hope this act of rising above partisanship to do what is right becomes the rule and not the exception.
Mike Johanns, a Republican, represents Nebraska in the U.S. Senate and is a former Governor of the state.