November 12th, 2009
02:55 PM ET
5 years ago

ACORN files lawsuit over loss of federal funding

ACORN leader Bertha Lewis defended her group at a press conference in Washington last month.
ACORN leader Bertha Lewis defended her group at a press conference in Washington last month.

(CNN) – The embattled community organizing group ACORN filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging a law passed by Congress that denies it federal funding.

Related: Liberal Dem blasts ACORN

The congressional appropriations resolution specifically provides that no federal dollars be provided to ACORN "or any of ACORN's affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations."

In a release announcing the suit, an attorney for ACORN said Congress had overstepped its authority in singling out the organization for denial of federal funding.

"It's not the job of Congress to be the judge, jury, and executioner," Jules Lobel, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in the statement. "We have due process in this country, and our Constitution forbids lawmakers from singling out a person or group for punishment without a fair investigation and trial. Congress, as well as individuals and organizations must abide by the rule of law."

ACORN's lawsuit alleges that Congress' action is unconstitutional and seeks a court order prohibiting the federal government enforcing or complying with the congressional resolution.

The community organizing group came under increasing scrutiny in recent months after the release of videos produced by two conservative activists. The conservative filmmakers, posing as a pimp and a prostitute, sought advice from ACORN employees on setting up a brothel with underage girls from El Salvador. The activists recorded the videos in Baltimore and three other cities. The tapes show ACORN employees suggesting or condoning a series of illicit actions.

Related: ACORN sues filmmakers

The release of the videos caused federal agencies including the Census Bureau to reconsider their ties to ACORN and precipitated a number of investigations by federal agencies into ACORN's conduct.

Related: IRS inspector general joins entities looking into ACORN

The law passed by Congress denying ACORN federal funding also came in the wake of the release of the controversial videos.

Update: In a statement e-mailed to CNN, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, the Ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called ACORN's suit "baseless."


Filed under: ACORN • Congress
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. cyspeth

    Those that defend this organization shock me.

    For those that bring up right wing organizations that receive federal funding how about this: All groups regardless of affiliation should be denied federal funding.

    Blackwater, ACORD, SEIU, all of them, the government has no business giving Taxpayer money to any outside organization that isn't a federal body period.

    Times are tough, and the federal dept is in the Trillions. What do normal people do when times are tough? They cut back.

    It's time for the same to happen here. I don't care if the group is right or left, liberal or conservative. The funding of these types of groups needs to stop period.

    Billions of dollars of TAXPAYER money has gone to this group, that has never been voted on by the people of this country, that the people of this country have 0 control over how it operates.

    All of these groups should be shut out of all taxpayer funding. Period.

    November 12, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Justice

    If ACORN is to be held accountable, it should be a precedent for ALL abuses related to public funding.

    In fact, this pales in comparison to the millions in abuses from Halliburton, Blackwater, KBR, MPC, Boeing, ArmorGroup, etc.

    November 12, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Marc

    Point #1: Every organization has bad employees... ACORN dealt with theirs as soon as they were exposed. Do you actually think everyone at ACORN is a crook ( I know some of you actually do, but to say that is like saying everyone at AIG is responsible for that company's misconduct)...

    Point #2: ACORN was entrapped (how come congress did not act to "de-fund" every other government contractor that was convicted (not alleged- but convicted) of actual crimes

    Point #3: I challenge ANYONE who has something bad to say about ACORN to actually look up ACORN's record of helping the disadvantaged and poor in our country... (They have done a whole lot more than Blackwater has ever done!). I'll wait to see if anyone actually does.

    November 12, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. JP

    ACORN is a criminal enterprize do a search on (ACORN NINJA loans fraud) and see for yourself.

    November 12, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. steven harnack

    When are they going to enact legislation to strip every senator or congressman accused of wrongdoing of their federal pay and benefits? Or every defense contractor?

    November 12, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. Mike Syracuse, NY

    ACORN should be investigated for violation of fedaral racketeering laws. This lawsuit just proves that ACORN shouuld be forced to pay back every taxpayer dollar it ever got. The IRS should audit every ACORN employee. There was plenty of info out there before the election to show what a fraud ACORN was. The liberal MSM ignored it, and would still be ignoring it if Fox hadn't broken the story.

    November 12, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Candide

    They should be thrown in jail and the key thrown away. If they manage to somehow win this, there truly is no justice in this world. What a bunch of crooks, slimeballs, and sleazes.

    November 12, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Paul from Phoenix

    I would love for an open investigation of ACORN's books. I wonder if that would be possible?

    November 12, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Republican'ts are so YESTERDAY

    I would like one of you right-wing nut-jobs screeching about how "criminal" ACORN is to please cite some proof of their criminality. And I mean PROOF, not just what you've heard on Cluster Fox. Wow . . . . . . deafening silence is all I hear.

    November 12, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Mark from Louisiana

    With all the videos showing how to avoid taxes seems like the IRS would be doing audits on every tax return prepared by acorn. I bet they don't check one as long as this administration is in power.

    November 12, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Gunny262

    OMG, I cant believe it . one of the biggest most crooked organizations is gonna sue? give me a break, they should all be in prison ornage

    November 12, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. rrrrrrrobert

    Whether you like Acorn or not, it is actually unconstitutional to directly target a specific corporation or person through congress. I'm pretty sure Acorn will win this lawsuit.

    November 12, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. Pete

    "Let me get this right...Congress is the holder of the funds for ACORN, but they do not have the right to stop those funds. What is wrong with this picture?"

    Uh, read the Constitution. Specifically Article One, Section Nine. Then Google "bill of attainder." Then report back to the class on what you found.

    November 12, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Jenn, Philadelphia

    This is what happens when entitlement is bred into society. Hire a lawyer when you don't get what you think you deserve.

    November 12, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. Gary

    Corrupt, biased, reckless, offensive....ACORN is a mess and should get no federal or state funding. This lawsuit is frivolous and symbolic of the crazy organization that needs to be sut down. Gary

    November 12, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. Independant Vet

    Why don't some one give them a free lift to the grand Canyon , then have them jump , or just go away . For they have not filled the graves they already dug up.

    November 12, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. cjl

    Go figure. What a joke. If you don't help me or agree with me, I'll sue. The uber-liberal Modus Operandi.

    November 12, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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