Senator Collins, Rep. Issa Demand Federal IG Probes Into ACORN Funding, Activities

WASHINGTON. D.C. – Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today made a formal joint request that various Offices of Inspectors General probe recent allegations concerning the activities of ACORN, a community advocacy organization.

Senator Collins and Rep. Issa asked that the Inspectors General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), “review grants, contracts, entitlements and other forms of assistance to ACORN and its affiliates.”

Within hours of their request, the U.S. House voted to cut off further federal funding to ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which has been plagued by charges of voter registration fraud, questionable interactions captured on videotape, and potential misuse of federal grants and assistance. Earlier in the week, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that would prohibit funds provided under that act from going to ACORN.

Senator Collins said ACORN must be held accountable for its actions and that its federally funded activities must be transparent. “At a time when hard-working American families are making tough financial sacrifices, I am appalled by recent reports involving the apparent rampant misuse of taxpayer dollars by ACORN,” Senator Collins said.

“During the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, congressional oversight into how the public’s money is spent has never been more important. That is why I am joining Rep. Issa in this urgent request that Inspectors General launch an official investigation. We are asking investigators to examine federal grants, contracts and assistance awarded to ACORN and its affiliates, to review whether ACORN and its affiliates have complied with our tax laws, and to determine whether an appropriate level of federal oversight was in place to begin with.”

Said Rep. Issa, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee: “As long as taxpayers are subsidizing ACORN and its affiliates, we need to use every measure possible to ensure that those dollars are being spent and managed appropriately. The way in which ACORN and its affiliates have structured their organization raises significant questions regarding their intent and use of federal dollars. Clearly just taking them at their word is not sufficient enough oversight.”

Senator Collins and Rep. Issa also asked each IG office to “determine whether appropriate oversight mechanisms” are in place to ensure funds distributed to ACORN and its affiliates were spent in a manner consistent with spending criteria.

Should the investigations reveal that ACORN and its affiliates misused federal funds, the two lawmakers asked the three Inspectors General to “refer such evidence to their respective agency’s Suspension and Debarment Official for a determination of whether or not ACORN and its affiliates should be placed on the federal government’s Excluded Parties List.” This action would prohibit ACORN from receiving any new federal contracts or grants for a specified period of time.