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Another Report Shows No Wrongdoing By ACORN

The Congressional Research Service has released a report to the House Judiciary Committee about ACORN, the community organizing group which has generated controversy on the right. John Conyers, who asked for the report, wanted to know about a variety of issues related to the group, and here were some of the results:

There were no instances of individuals who were allegedly registered to vote improperly by ACORN or its employees and who were reported “attempting to vote at the polls.” Memorandum from the Congressional Research Service to the House Judiciary Committee, “ACORN Investigations” (December 22, 2009), at 1.
As of October 2009, there have been 46 reported federal, state, and local investigations concerning ACORN, of which 11 are still pending. “ACORN Investigations,” Table 1.
No instances were identified in which ACORN “violated the terms of federal funding in the last five years.” “ACORN Investigations,” at 1.
Recently enacted federal legislation to prohibit funding to ACORN raises significant constitutional concerns.  The courts “may have a sufficient basis” to conclude that the legislation “violates the prohibition against bills of attainder.”  Congressional Research Service, “The Proposed ‘Defund ACORN Act’ and Related Legislation: Are They Bills of Attainder?” (November 30, 2009), at 25.
Concerning recent “sting” operations relating to ACORN, although state laws vary, two relevant states, Maryland and California, “appear to ban private recording of face to face conversations absent the consent of all the participants.” Memorandum from the Congressional Research Service to the House Judiciary, “Allegations of Recording Conversations with Various ACORN Affiliated Individuals without Their Consent” (October 9, 2009), at 1.

You can find the entire report here. Conyers, who initiated the study, said that there are more to come, including a GAO study about federal funding for ACORN.

Last week, a district court judge ruled that the ban on ACORN funding represented an unconstitutional “bill of attainder.” This is especially cogent in light of the fact that ACORN did not violate the terms of its federal funding within the past five years, according to the CRS.

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David Dayen

David Dayen