Patterico's Pontifications

11/27/2009

Justice Department: OK to Pay ACORN

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 5:14 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

On Oct. 1, President Obama signed a spending bill with a provision that no taxpayer funds — “including funds authorized by previous legislation” — could be “provided to” the ACORN or its affiliates. However, the New York Times reports David Barron, the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, issued an October 23rd memorandum that the Obama Administration can lawfully pay ACORN “for services provided under contracts signed before Congress banned the government from providing funds to the group:”

“A Housing and Urban Development lawyer asked the Justice Department whether the new law meant that pre-existing contracts with Acorn should be broken. But in a memorandum signed Oct. 23 and posted online this week, Mr. Barron said the government should continue to make payments to Acorn as required by such contracts.

The new law “should not be read as directing or authorizing HUD to breach a pre-existing binding contractual obligation to make payments to Acorn or its affiliates, subsidiaries or allied organizations where doing so would give rise to contractual liability,” Mr. Barron wrote.”

Barron based his opinion on the use of the phrase “provided to” and general rules of statutory construction:

“Mr. Barron said he had based his conclusion on the statute’s phrase “provided to.” This phrase, he said, has no clearly defined meaning in the realm of government spending — unlike words like “obligate” and “expend.”

Citing dictionary and thesaurus entries, he said “provided to” could be interpreted as meaning only instances in which an official was making “discretionary choices” about whether to give the group money, rather than instances in which the transfer of funds to Acorn was required to satisfy contractual obligations.

Since there are two possible ways to construe the term “provided to,” Mr. Barron wrote, it makes sense to pick the interpretation that allows the government to avoid breaching contracts.”

[EDIT: The Memorandum Opinion is available here.]

Thus, this DOJ directive authorizes payments to ACORN under past federal contracts but it’s unclear if it also applies to ACORN’s future contracts. ACORN’s pending lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent its defunding. It will be interesting to see if the government elects not to oppose ACORN’s request for an injunction.

So will Congress try again to cut off ACORN’s funding or do the Democrats believe they can safely treat the ACORN story as old news?

— DRJ

16 Responses to “Justice Department: OK to Pay ACORN”

  1. Obama is the President from ACORN and so many Democrat politicians depend on the shock troops of ACORN and it’s sister organization, the SEIU to get out the vote, that this was almost a foregone conclusion. The vote is Congress allowed the members to show appropriate public indignation and Obama, Gaspard, Holder and his cronies worked out a backdoor solution to undo and frustrate the Congressional action and keep it quiet.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  2. We use Congressional Appropriations to fund ACORN so that they can conduct voter outreach manipulate the electoral process, resulting in the election of slightly bent (or completely bent if William Jefferson, or Charlie Rangel is your frame of reference) KongressKritters who then vote to appropriate funds to ACORN for voter outreach further manipulation, which results in…
    There is only one way to stop corruption on a scale this large, and it was used once before, 234-years ago.

    AD - RtR/OS! (5fb16f)

  3. …this DOJ directive authorizes payments to ACORN under past federal contracts but it’s unclear if it also applies to ACORN’s future contracts.

    When in doubt, assume that the most undesirable outcome is what will transpire.

    Yes, there will be future contracts with ACORN. Ans they will be paid.

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (76097c)

  4. Yes, because the Federal Government has NEVER welched on a contract!
    You can take it to the bank.

    AD - RtR/OS! (5fb16f)

  5. When we were working under federal contract, a funding ban for malfeasance was a total ban … past, present, and future contracts.

    bill-tb (365bd9)

  6. this is different from America… you can’t tell me this outcome wasn’t understood from the outset

    happyfeet (0003d3)

  7. Federal contracts leave a great deal of discretion. What is the guidance to Agencies for picking up further contract options? What about time and material contracts that can be stopped or continued at the agency’s discretion? What about additional work requests under existing contracts? Are they allowed or forbidden?

    John Y (aa1e58)

  8. Ah, but it was the Bush administration that was “lawless” …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. I think this will prove to be a very big mistake for the administration—–messin’ with congress–which fully understands how toxic ACORN is and has already taken clear steps to separate themselves from funding ACORN. A lot of Dem. legislators may feel conflicted and/or may be getting WH pressure regarding the healthcare bill and other liberal initiatives. But this is a case where I would expect some pushback from some of the more vocal congresspersons of the Left persuasion. I sincerely doubt that their phone lines are clogged with voters demanding that they pay more money to ACORN.

    You’d almost think by his recent actions that Holder is TRYING to undermine this presidency.

    elissa (37f663)

  10. No doubt the administration will simply extend existing contracts to keep the funding going ad infinitum.

    Thank God for Andrew Breitbart!

    Corky Boyd (e57add)

  11. I actually think that the brazen way in which this administration acts, i.e completely oblivious to the electorate’s desires and the rule of law will ultimately be their downfall. They misunderestimate (sic) the sleeping tiger that their shenanigans have awakened. Which is a good thing. They will pay the price. Then we need to get term limits on the books. I never used to believe in them, as we already have the power at the ballot, but I have come to realize that we are too stupid as a nation to be trusted to vote the bums out.

    Gazzer (f4dafa)

  12. Anyone thinking tax money was going to stop going to ACORN can help me smuggle 50 million dollars out of Nigeria. Just send me your bank account and passwords. You’ll be rich in no time.

    ck (1b3aba)

  13. I edited the post to add a link to the DOJ Memorandum Opinion.

    DRJ (dee47d)

  14. Like children who keep pushing the limits of their misbehavior until you lower the boom on them. Black Panthers at the voting station,
    KSM to NYC, Navy SEALs’ prosecution, ACORN protection….the hits keep coming. If we don’t do something in 2010 elections, Lord knows how far they’ll go in 3 more years.

    krusher (e0c137)

  15. Bush’s DoJ prosecuted a number of Republicans and sent some of their own to jail. When some people inside the White House tried to change this, there was a huge scandal — it made all the “quality” newspapers.

    But when Holder does it, nary a peep from the arbiters of truth. Sigh. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pitiful.

    I wonder how this will all play with a Republican-run Congress. Tick tock.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  16. Eric H. took Acorn’s side?

    Shockeroo!

    Patricia (b05e7f)


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