Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

A Random Act of Good Government

This is perfect:

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it 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.

Now stop and think about that.  Better yet, read the text of the bill (which has passed both the House and Senate):


(a) Prohibitions- With respect to any covered organization, the following prohibitions apply:

(1) No Federal contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or any other form of agreement (including a memorandum of understanding) may be awarded to or entered into with the organization.

(2) No Federal funds in any other form may be provided to the organization.

(3) No Federal employee or contractor may promote in any way (including recommending to a person or referring to a person for any purpose) the organization.

(b) Covered Organization– In this section, the term `covered organization’ means any of the following:

(1) Any organization that has been indicted for a violation under any Federal or State law governing the financing of a campaign for election for public office or any law governing the administration of an election for public office, including a law relating to voter registration.

(2) Any organization that had its State corporate charter terminated due to its failure to comply with Federal or State lobbying disclosure requirements.

(3) Any organization that has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency.

(4) Any organization that–

(A) employs any applicable individual, in a permanent or temporary capacity;

(B) has under contract or retains any applicable individual; or

(C) has any applicable individual acting on the organization’s behalf or with the express or apparent authority of the organization….

Huh.  Can you think of “any organization” that describes?  I can.  Hell, I can think of one or two or, well, quite a few. And so can Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who’s Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.

Something makes me think that we’re going to see a giant walk-back on this bill in pretty short order.  Me?  I’d love to see it applied by its own terms.


Car-Free Day: Take A Stand Against Prosperity! Err . . .


Robert Kaplan on Al Jazeera


  1. LFS

    I’m not sure what is so surprising… this just goes to show that Representatives and Senators do not read the bills they vote upon.

    Interestingly, #18 on the list is “Government of the United States” with $0 of misconduct. I’m not saying the general gist of this list is wrong, but I think they might have something screwy going on with their reporting metrics.

    BTW, what is the definition of “fraudulent” here? Is it any filing with an error, or any filing with an intentional misrepresentation?

  2. tx2vadem

    Does fraud ever mean anything other than intentional deception?

  3. tx2vadem

    I looked at some of the instance of misconduct and they were all cases where the contractors settled a case of alleged misconduct. So, in those cases, the company never admits to do anything wrong. Does this still mean they would lose their contracts under this law?

    And, BTW, to LFS above, the list on the site appears to be all contractors regardless of wrongdoing. It is initially sorted by the aggregate dollar value of the contracts. And the federal government does contract with itself. I am guessing this was a short form way of not breaking out every interagency agreement.

  4. LFS

    tx2vadem, for eight years people have been yelling about a certain set of politicians lying without producing any proof. Since this information comes by way of a partisan attack, its a fair question to ask about the definition of “fraudulent” in this case.

  5. tx2vadem

    Alleging fraud does not change the definition of fraud. I can’t find any other meaning for fraud except intentional deception. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. That’s not fraud.

    I think I further clarified my question above. I didn’t realize you could filter the results (my laziness). So, when I looked at Lockheed and selected criminal cases, there were only two. Am I wrong to make the assumption that the fraudulent form provisions would need to be a criminal conviction?

  6. LFS

    It is the determination of fraud that is the issue. The list is being put forth by people who are saying “Look, this is a list of frauds.” But as you yourself ask, is the finding of fraud in the conviction or simply in the accusation?

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