Eric Holder’s Justice Department has concluded that the Obama administration can “lawfully” pay ACORN for services provided under contracts signed before Congress enacted a law banning the government from providing funds to the group. This should apply to any pimping, ho’in and child prostituion scheme that liberals set up before the videos came out from James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles. The Holder’s department’s conclusion which has been laid out in a recently disclosed five-page memorandum also adds a new wrinkle to a sharp political debate over the antipoverty group’s activities and recent efforts to distance the government from it according to the New York Times.
The deputy director of national operations for Acorn, Brian Kettenring, praised Mr. Barron’s decision.
“We are pleased that commitments will be honored relative to Acorn’s work to help keep America’s working families facing foreclosure in their homes,” he said.
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 such words as “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 existing 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.
Moreover, he argued, requiring the government to abrogate existing contracts with a specifically named entity — “including even in cases where performance has already been completed but payment has not been rendered” — would raise constitutional concerns best avoided by interpreting the law differently.
The Constitution prohibits “bills of attainder” — legislation aimed at punishing specific people or groups. Acorn has filed a lawsuit arguing that the statute banning the government from providing it funds amounts to an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
Founded in Arkansas in 1970, Acorn describes itself as the nation’s largest grass-roots community organizing group. It provides financial services to poor and middle-income families, conducts voter registration drives, and advocates for higher minimum wages and more affordable housing.