Coalition Guest Commentary - Rep. Todd Tiahrt: Taxpayer Subsidization of ACORN Fraud Must End

I am introducing a congressional resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives in light of the recent reports of criminal activity involving ACORN and their long history of tax-exemption abuse. I am calling on Congress to terminate ACORN's tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

My resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) should lose its exemption from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

I have introduced this resolution because of a number of abuses by ACORN. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, seven employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (commonly referred to as ‘‘ACORN'') were charged with filing hundreds of fraudulent voter registrations before the 2008 elections.

In 2009 in West Reading, Pennsylvania, an ACORN employee was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison for identity theft and tampering with records. In September 2009 in Miami, Florida. 11 former ACORN registration canvassers were arrested on allegations that they had submitted nearly 200 falsified registration forms.

Washington State fined ACORN $25,000 after several employees were convicted of voter registration fraud in 2007. In 2007 four ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City, Missouri, for charges including identity theft and filing false registrations during the 2006 election.

In Colorado in January 2005, two Colorado ACORN workers were sentenced to community service for submitting false voter registrations. In Ohio in 2004, four ACORN employees were indicted by a Federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, election officials estimate that ACORN submitted at least 1,500 fraudulent registrations in fall 2008.

Citizens Consulting, Inc., the umbrella group controlling ACORN, was paid $832,000 by the Obama for America Campaign of 2008 for get-out-the-vote efforts. Several other jurisdictions have also had concerns about ACORN's fraudulent voter registration procedures, and there are an estimated 14 ongoing investigations around the country.

Most recently hidden camera investigations of ACORN offices in New York, Baltimore, and Washington, District of Columbia showed workers giving advice on how to evade taxes and conceal the nature of their illegal business.

ACORN has received more than $53 million in direct funding from the Federal Government since 1994. It is now abundantly clear that ACORN has violated the spirit of entities afforded tax exempt status and should no longer be considered as such.

My resolution ends with the following sentences: "Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (commonly referred to as ‘‘ACORN'') should lose its exemption from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986."

Congressman Todd Tiahrt represents the 4th Congressional District of Kansas and serves on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

 

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Acorn approached me to manage a grant with Acorn Institute in Miami, Fl. They were in control of a US HUD grant for $97,000.  I would hold Fair Housing seminars throughout Miami-Dade and would be paid for my services.  After two such seminars, Acorn pulled away from its obligations.  US HUD in Miami told me Acorn's financials were not in order and they could not draw down the funds.  After about a two year period, the $97,000 was reprogrammed to Hope VI who was a collaborative of Acorn.   Of interest, is that the $97,000 was to be sent to Acorn's Headquarters in New Orleans.  Their attorney in New Orleans said he would not honor the agreement.  When I discussed the situation with US Hud in Miami, they admitted to writing the grant for Acorn, but did not feel obligated to engage them in accountability.  US HUD Dollars are not suppose to be racially profiled and racially "steered".   Also of great concern is that Acorn has "partnered" with the Office of Community and Economic Development in Miami-Dade.  Why would they not be obligated to submit their RFA Applications through the same process as all non-profits.  Thus, I am in agreement that their non-profit status should be pulled for their "trickster" approach to business.  The next group to follow is the National and local Community Action Agencies who appear to have a "copycat" window on Acorn. 

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