ACORN and its affiliates received $200,000 in Justice Department grants between 2002 and 2009, according to a report issued Friday by the department's inspector general.
No DOJ grants went directly to ACORN, but a handful of grants were awarded either to ACORN affiliates or to other organizations that sub-contracted projects to ACORN.
The report, requested by House Judiciary Committee ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas), also found a few instances of ACORN mismanagement of federally contracted work.
For example, ACORN received a $20,000 sub-contract to do community outreach on crime prevention in New York. The organization that contracted with ACORN has not released the funds yet, claiming that ACORN submitted reimbursements "outside the scope of the agreement," including "fringe benefits" for the salaried staffer working on the project.
In another instance the city of Phoenix contracted with the "ACORN Institute" to receive about $9,000 to canvass citizens and raise awareness about a tax credit and a tax assistance program. The city hasn't paid ACORN yet due to "poor reporting by the ACORN Institute regarding another project not related to DOJ grant funds." Phoenix is trying to terminate its contract with ACORN.
The DOJ did not audit the funds that went to ACORN or its affiliates, but did conduct an audit of one of the organizations that contracted with an ACORN affiliate. That audit concluded that the organization "did not properly manage the grant and did not adequately monitor some of its 36 sub-grantees, including the [American Institute of Social Justice]," an ACORN affiliate.
Smith seized on the report to call for a broader review of ACORN activities.
"Given the willingness of some ACORN employees to ignore the
law, it comes as no surprise that the IG’s report found several instances in
which ACORN and its affiliates failed to adhere to proper procedures," Smith said in a statement.
"Because the Justice Department’s review found only small amounts of taxpayer dollars going to ACORN, it is imperative that the Inspectors General from federal agencies that have provided millions to ACORN undertake the same kind of review. The Justice Department IG’s report may prove to be just the tip of an iceberg-sized fraud."