November 12th, 2009
02:55 PM ET
4 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. sarah

    Good for Acorn, it's about time we put a stop to the hateful party of NO and get them back to helping people. Hey fox supports Bush is on the air talking run....before he goes away.....there we got rid of the pesky liars.

    November 12, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Kat

    Good luck ACORN!!! Maybe you all will get the message... We don't want you, We don't trust you, now get out of the way and take your old pal BHO with you.

    November 12, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Gee

    This is absolutely what I would call a frivalous lawsuit.....the government is not obligated in any way what so ever to give that organization or any other organization any money. It is purely voluntary and to think that they can even file a suit because they lost their free-bee is disgusting. They should fine them for wasting the court's time.

    November 12, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. victim of republican greed

    Congress is not very bright and does not seem to understand much about law. Maybe the Bill of Rights should be taught as a remedial course for these overpaid congressmen.

    November 12, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. NH Independent

    Acorn is a bunch of thieving cheating dirtbags and do not deserve any taxpayer money.......

    November 12, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    LOL, sure when things go bad the liberals will cry it is unconstitutional!
    You know what our Government has not been following anything constitutional in over a century.
    Health care=unconstitutional
    Social Security=unconstitutional
    Colonialism=unconstitutional
    Federal reserve bank=unconstitutional
    Czars=unconstitutional
    drug war=unconstitutional
    The list is endless...

    November 12, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. tee

    ACORN is right.....no other group has lost funding, even after they have been found guilty.......this is backlash because the wingnut think they stole the election for President Obama......which is completely stupid and lacks logical thinking.....how could they have pulled that off....You need ID in order to vote.....would Donald Duck be able to furnish valid ID?.....David Pulloff, who ran the best campaign in history said they had their own people on the ground....ACORN assisted but not to the extent that the ignorant wingnuts believe.....yet some that will post on this blog....will say voter fraud....My question will be how did President Obama benefit.

    November 12, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Yusuf Johnson

    I work for one of the nations greatest hospitals, however, even we have theft within our ranks. It is widely known within the technology groups here at my hospital that flat screen TVs, and laptops are stolen more than anyone would like to admit (From areas only open to employees). This proves that when you have a large organization, you will have some bad apples. Would it be fair for groups that hate my hospital to go undercover to some members of our staff and ask them about getting them a piece of IT equipment from a warehouse, only to walk away accusing the entire hospital of being corrupt? I would guess that if you ask enough people in an undercover manner, you will find some who will tell you what you want to hear. Until a thorough investigation into the whole organization is done (not a right wing personal vendetta sting), then I say they should not be prosecuted (including stripping them of their funds).

    November 12, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Eyes Wide Open

    LOL, Acorn sues in court!

    Acorn thinks it has a constitutional right to get money from the Government.

    Just another reason this organization should NOT get any.

    November 12, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. single mom

    Um, well, Congress isn't judge and jury, but it IS Congress and it can decide where it wants the money to go.
    For once in a blue moon, I agree with it.

    Mmm, a certain hot spot may have just cooled! I defended Congress!
    ; )

    November 12, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. DinkyD

    This has to be the most pathetic situation I've heard to date! These crooks are actually suing the American public for their lost funding!? They're essentially using our own money (taxpayers' money!) in order to get more of our money! ACORN was receiving funding from federal and state sources and aid programs – our tax money!!! The fact that they are claiming that their constitutional rights were "violated" says it all! We the people are the ones who were violated!
    Love to see what Obama does about this, since he never publicly acknowledged their criminal activities.. oh wait, didn't they help get him elected thru voter fraud...?

    November 12, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. C

    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? Have these people had their hand out for free money so long they have forgotten how it is to earn a living? Unbelievable. If ACORN wins this, I will know we have reached the bottom rung on the ladder and have lost all sense of reality.

    This is the same organization that willingly provides a loan to a self-described pimp with plans to open a brothel. Then, to top it off, representatives of this same organization went out of their way to ensure Mr. Pimp knew exactly what to do in order to get the loan. I guess certain representatives of this organization are fine with setting up a house for prostitution. Amazing.

    November 12, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Mark from Louisiana

    So the obama campaign workers are going to sue the obama administration? ha ha ha
    If it's against the law to single out acorn just stop all funding for all groups of this type.

    November 12, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    Hmmm – ALL of ACORN was punished for the actions of a few.

    Maybe we should punish all Congress because a few of them are crooked.

    Vote the incumbents out every other election. Show them we're boss (we do pay them).

    November 12, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. fsuwalterb

    Excuse me: but if Congress can designate money for a group or cause – it CAN TAKE IT AWAY. I'm sorry; but, that's the way if it.

    If you do badly – funding should be taken away. It's the legislative body that does it – NOT THE JUDICIAL body.

    November 12, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. WeThePeopleofVirginia

    This should be interesting . . . depositions . . . cross-examinations . . . evidence (sssshh – OPEN THE BOOKS !!!)

    November 12, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. Mike in MN

    ACORN is not entitled to federal funds. There is no due process requiement involved. The videos along with the voter registration charges in over a dozen states and the embezzelment cover ups show that ACORN does not deserve federal funds until an investigation and audit can show they are clean.

    November 12, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Jarod from San Diego

    If theyre taking money from ACORN, then why is Blackwater, and other thieving, lying companies funded by my tax dollars still receiving monies from the government. I could think of a million reasons why that money should be used to produce shovel ready projects.

    November 12, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Charlotte

    Congress was having a knee-jerk reaction to right-wing brouhaha over ACORN, their selected target. In fact the irregularities that ACORN has been accused of, for the most part were brought to the attention of Law Enforcement BY ACORN, who was policing some of its rogue affiliates. So ACORN catches them doing something wrong, turns them in, then FOX et al. blame ACORN and accuse them of condoning bad behavior, and they make such a putrid stink over this that Congress swallowed it hook, line and sinker without bothering to find out what was really going on. That's our "leaders" for you......

    November 12, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Antonio_elizabeth-NJ

    Whether or not Congress can do that? is a good question. Were the ACORN employees high ranking Officials. Keep ACORN honest with Mr. Anderson Cooper. Is ACORN an honest organization? Was this event a lone, greed driven event by one or more parties set up by goverment agencies?

    November 12, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. mjm

    Yeah...let me know how that works out for ya...ACORN.

    Besides the funding is only suspended until at least December. It was more of a "grounding" then a suspension. Aparently ACORN is to dumb to know this.

    The Dems need ACORN to get elected...they aren't giving up that crutch....they'd never get into office again.

    November 12, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Wil

    I don't agree with what Acorn did, how ever they have a point, the is the law Congress over step it's bounds on this. All they did was jump on the hype fox news Glen Beck band wagon to score points. I hope the courts stand up for the law on this.

    November 12, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Acorn should be prosecuted by Obama

    If Obama had any stones, he would have the AG launch crininal investigations into every aspect of Acorn and prosecute all wrong doing. But then, Obama is not going to bite the hand that feeds him and gets him elected.

    November 12, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. DinkyD

    If they really want "due process", fine. Like any other entity or group who were caught doing something naughty, we freeze funding until a full investigation can be done. But note – funding will be frozen no matter what! ACORN is worthless!!!!

    November 12, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Monster Zero

    When ACORN surrenders to a FULL and COMPLETE independent audit as to where OUR tax dollars are being funneled then maybe they should be considered to be allowed back to the tax funded nipple. They are NOT a bi-partisan group and I for one detest our tax dollars going to fund campaigns for people that I don't even care for. This is a RIP OFF of our tax dollars and it is just more of Obama's under handed manipulation of the lower class to perform his dirty work in promise for a free hand out.

    November 12, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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