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GAO to probe ACORN's use of federal funds

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 5:52 p.m. ET

Government auditors will investigate the use of federal funding by the Association of Community Groups for Reform Now, an embattled community-organizing group which conservatives have long accused of illegal activities.

The Government Accountability Office informed Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of the investigation earlier this month, and the lawmakers publicly announced GAO's plans on Thursday. Smith is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, while Issa leads the GOP on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Though the watchdog agency's investigation will likely provide a solid accounting of ACORN's spending of federal funds, the auditors lack any enforcement powers. Smith also wants the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate ACORN and add law enforcement muscle to GAO's efforts.

“The GAO review is a good start, but given ACORN’s extensive record of criminal conduct, the FBI must also step in," Smith said. "Only an independent criminal investigation conducted by the FBI can get to the bottom of the nationwide allegations against ACORN.”

Issa said the study "should be another step toward understanding the scope of funds from across the federal government that were sent to ACORN yet cannot be verified that they were used as intended.”

Lawmakers voted to end the group's federal funding this fall after an undercover operation by two conservative activists produced video of ACORN employees giving advice on how to avoid paying taxes on a brothel. But a federal judge ruled the vote unconstitutional last week, saying the House issued a “bill of attainder,” or legislative singling out of a specific group.

The Justice Department filed papers Thursday in Brooklyn asking the judge to reverse her ruling. Government lawyers argued that ACORN's own decision to investigate the group's spending validates Congressional concern.

The Census Bureau dropped the group in September as one of its thousands of unpaid "community partners" amid criticism from Republican lawmakers.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 17, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Oversight  
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Hold them accountable. I doubt that ACORN has their books anywhere near in order, let alone has EVMS knowledge.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 17, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I fully agree that the ACORN should be investigated by the GAO. If the GAO finds a smoking gun, only then should the investigation be escalated to the FBI.

Posted by: SadieKarlov | December 18, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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