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Update: Klobuchar, Franken vote to bar federal funds for ACORN

In a win for Republicans, who have frequently criticized the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the Senate overwhelming approved an amendment blocking funding.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voted Monday to bar federal funds in a new appropriations bill from going to the controversial anti-poverty group ACORN, following investigations into the conduct of ACORN employees.

“The senator felt it was important to let ACORN know that the behavior of their employees was unacceptable,” said Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh. “Overall, they’re a good organization with the best of intentions, especially in Minnesota, but obviously some serious house-keeping needs to be done to get themselves in order.”

Klobuchar did not immediately return a request for comment.

The measure came as an amendment to the $122 billion FY10 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill.
In a win for Republicans, who have frequently criticized the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the Senate overwhelming approved the amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

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The vote was 83 to 7.

Voting against it were Sens. Dick Durbin and Roland Burris of Illinois, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Kristen Gillibrand of New York, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

ACORN has received millions of federal funds since 1994 through such things as community development block grants, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and mortgage counseling.

Last week, however, Miami-Dade prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 11 ACORN employees and charged them with falsifying 888 of 1,400 voter registration cards.

This followed investigations in Nevada and Pennsylvania over charges involving forgery and falsification of voter records.

From his speech on the Senate floor, Johanns also mentioned that conservative activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles had gone undercover posing as a pimp and a prostitute to secretly film ACORN workers in Washington, Baltimore, and Brooklyn advising them on how to get around the tax and housing law.

“I would suggest, obviously, this is a pattern of very rotten behavior,” Johanns said.

On Friday, the Census Bureau notified ACORN that it would not be using the group to help with the 2010 census.

In a statement, ACORN said that it had fired the Baltimore and Washington workers implicated in the video. ACORN also threatened legal action against Fox News, which it claims is behind the videos.
ACORN has previously told MinnPost that the organization has never been convicted of voter fraud. ACORN has also denied any wrongdoing in Nevada.

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Meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who has been a vocal critic of ACORN, applauded the Senate’s move.

“The time has come to strip this organization of the privilege of receiving taxpayer funding,” Bachmann said in a statement.