Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday dismissed a suggestion from one of ACORN's most vocal Republican critics that he sanction a probe into the organization's business practices.
In his letter to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the majority leader said he would rather not "ask our committees or this Congress to do anything that would detract from efforts" to address bigger priorities, including healthcare reform and economic recovery. He also expressed his concern that Vitter's "interest in this matter is driven, at least in in part, by partisan political views."
Reid's rebuke arrives about a week after Vitter and a slew of GOP lawmakers passed an amendment barring ACORN from receiving federal transportation and housing dollars -- a movement that quickly spurred the House to take similar action. Although Vitter did not sponsor the Senate proposal, he has previously introduced two similar amendments this year to block ACORN's federal money.
Vitter also apparently sent a letter to Reid earlier this month outlining his position on the ACORN fiasco, one in which he also pined the majority leader to launch a tough investigation.
Reid, however, seems to have rebuffed Vitter's appeal. In his reply, the majority leader said he shared Vitter's concerns, but he stopped short of completely indicting the organization, which he said was currently under considerable state and federal scrutiny. He also criticized Vitter for choosing to politicize the still-unfolding investigation process.
"As the U.S. Attorney firings and DOJ hiring scandals remind us, we should be very careful about any activities that could be viewed as politicizing investigations and law enforcement decisions," Reid said. "Toward that end, it is unfortunate that in your letter you thought it relevant to note reports claiming ACORN's ties to 'liberal research and training institutes.'"
"The recent history cited above demonstrates it is very harmful to conduct any investigation... based on the political leanings of a group," he added.
Ultimately, Reid concluded, it would be up to individual committees and their
chairmen to determine whether to investigate ACORN for its alleged
misdeeds. Yet, the majority leader also asked Vitter not to burden those committees with such distracting requests.
"The American people would expect no less," Reid said.