A $79,819 Grant to ACORN Offshoot in Apparent Violation of ACORN Funding Ban

Judicial Watch recently found that the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a $79,819 grant to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) offshoot Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA). This is an apparent violation of an ACORN funding ban passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009.

On October 1, 2009, President Obama signed the Defund ACORN Act into law, effectively prohibiting the federal government from funding “ACORN and any ACORN-related affiliate.” ACORN challenged the law in court and lost. The federal courts in New York upheld the constitutionality of the funding ban on August 13, 2010. The Supreme Court last month refused to hear ACORN’s appeal of this funding ban.

A Judicial Watch investigation has revealed that on March 1, 2011, HUD announced a $79,819 federal grant to ACHOA to “educate the public and housing providers about their rights and obligations under federal, state, and local fair housing laws.”

In an apparent effort to remedy the prohibition against funding ACORN or its affiliates, the Government Accountability Office issued an opinion in September 2010 claiming that ACHOA is a separate entity from ACORN. Nonetheless, the government’s own website that lists federal expenditures identifies the organization receiving the $79,819 grant as “ACORN Housing Corporation Inc,” and lists ACORN’s New Orleans, Louisiana, address. Moreover, ACHOA maintains the same board of directors, executive director and offices as its predecessor, ACORN Housing Corporation, Inc.

Fraudulent activity on the part of ACORN Housing/ACHOA is nothing new.

A September 21, 2010, HUD inspector general report states that ACORN Housing is “now operating as Affordable Housing Centers of America,” which misappropriated funds from a $3,252,399 federal grant. The inspector general concluded that ACORN Housing/ACHOA had charged salary expenses to the HUD grant that “were not fully supported.” The organization also paid its counselors even after they were terminated, did not meet federal procurement standards and allegedly destroyed documents to conceal their misdeeds.

A separate HUD inspector general less than two months later details more questionable activity by ACORN/ACHOA: “[ACORN/ACHOA] inappropriately expended more than $3.2 million from its fiscal years 2004 and 2005 grants for the elimination of lead poisoning in its housing program.” The misappropriation included the use of funds “not identified in its grant application’s detailed budgets,” including “campaign services” and “grant fundraising activities.”

Obama and ACORN go way back. During the presidential campaign in November 2007, then-Senator Obama addressed ACORN and thanked the organization for its work. While Obama has denied that he had any involvement with ACORN other than some legal work he did for them in 1995, his statements in 2007 suggest otherwise. In Senator Obama’s own words, “I’ve been fighting alongside Acorn [sic] on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, Acorn [sic] was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.” Barack Obama served as the Illinois executive director of Project Vote in 1992. His campaign paid more than $800,000 to an ACORN organization to help “get out the vote” in his successful primary campaign against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that “perhaps no administration official has had more interaction with Acorn [sic] than Mr. [Shaun] Donovan,” who is Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The Times notes that Donovan “worked closely” with ACORN’s politically-powerful New York housing affiliate when he was a New York City housing official.

President Obama is truly the president from ACORN. So it is no surprise that his administration would continue to dole out tax dollars to an ACORN affiliate with a documented history of fraudulent activity.

This is another instance of President Obama’s appointees stubbornly refusing to follow the law and deny this crooked organization funds. Is the Obama gang ensuring that ACORN is around to help them again in 2012?

This year, HUD is to provide $40 million in grants to 108 “fair housing” organizations, which is a $13.2 million increase over last year’s expenditures.

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