A report issued today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds little to support the charges that led to the demise of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a grassroots consumer advocacy organization driven out of existence by Congressional critics.
The GAO found that monitoring of awards to ACORN by government agencies generally consisted of reviewing progress reports and making site visits. Of 22 investigations of alleged election and voter registration fraud, most were closed without prosecution, the report found.
One of eight investigations of alleged voter registration fraud resulted in guilty pleas and seven were closed without action due to lack of evidence.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) reported five closed matters – one resolved, one dismissed and the others dropped after FEC "found no reason to believe the violations occurred."
At its peak, ACORN was a collection of 1,200 community-based organizations in 100 U.S. cities that advocated for low- and moderate-income families.
In 2009, conservative activists released selectively edited videos claiming to show ACORN employees giving advice on hiding prostitution activities and avoiding taxes.
The videos created a nationwide controversy that resulting in Congress passing laws that prohibited federal funds from being awarded to ACORN. The group disbanded in March 2010 In December 2009, New York U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that Congress had violated the Constitution by singling out ACORN and banning it from receiving federal funds but the ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court, which found that federal funds amounted to only 10 percent of ACORN's funding and therefore Congress' action did not amount to punishment, even though it may have been unjustified.
The GAO report identified about $48 million in federal grants and contracts that had been awarded to ACORN and its affiliates from 2005 to 2009.
The GAO made no recommendations in its report.