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Saturday, September 26, 2009

If Acorn goes down will Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grunman be next.?

Somehow I doubt that Glenn Beck will be presenting with any revelations about this corruption. The constituencies are much more important and besides it is not clear how he would be able to bring in outrage at promoting underage prostitution. The corruption in these cases involves contract violations which although they may end up costing the taxpayer a great deal of money spent for no value does not have the shock value of the corruption revealed at Acorn. If I were a gambler I wouldn't bet a cent that either of these giants will be punished by not receiving any further contracts!


If Acorn Goes Down, So Might The Military-Industrial Complex?

Here's a shout-out to Ryan Grim who first noted the delicious irony when the House of Representatives last week rammed through a motion to defund Acorn, whose roughly 1,200 chapters serve as advocates for poorer communities. That was the culminating moment after a weeklong orgy of cable hysterics after a couple of undercover conservative activists began posting a series of embarrassing tapes showing Acorn field office reps offering advice how to evade the law. With Republicans smelling blood and Democrats cowering under their seats, the House passed the proposal with broad bipartisan support to strip government funding for the organization. But as Grim noted, the wording in the legislation was so broad that the provision also applies to "any organization that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things." That covers a lot of territory. Turns out the bill was drafted so as to target groups which may have had run-ins similar to those chronicled in the recordings. But let's recall that several big contractors have had run-ins with the law where their employees were charged with fraud. Here's the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database which lists the names of contractors who have histories of misconduct. It's a veritable Who's Who of Corporate America. As the Project On Government Oversight points out, "Lockheed Martin, which has 11 government contract fraud instances, or Northrop Grumman with 9 contract fraud instances including this $325 million False Claims Act settlement from earlier this year." By contrast, Acorn is said to have received a total of $53 million in federal funds since 1994. Bad behavior doesn't excuse other bad behavior but there was no shortage of schadenfreude as the news spread. Liberal bloggers, who had watched with horror as Acorn was turned into Enemy No. 1 by conservative television and talk show hosts, lost no time pointing out the potential contradictions and, well, yes, hypocrisy. On Pacific Views, one blogger pointed out that the courts could reference the list to vet companies in deciding whether it's legal to award them government funds. What's more, the blog noted, if this law only applies to Acorn, it's going to have an impossible time standing up in court. The reason? "Because it would otherwise be a bill of attainder which is explicitly barred by the Constitution." If this plays out as liberal critics of the House vote believe, then the anti-Acorn bill might have the inadvertent effect of forcing the U.S. government to sever ties with most of the big contractors it's worked with for decades. My guess is that the phone lines to Washington are going to be quite busy over the next several days.
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