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Public Statements

Acorn Letter

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

To: the Editor Jan. 26, 2010

The special election for Sen. Kennedy's seat was a wake-up call. But as people rub sleep from their eyes, please stay vigilant to the irrationalism and manipulation of many prominent conservative Republicans who seem so gleeful.

For example, we hear that the earthquake in Haiti was retribution, because Haiti was "cursed" by a "pact with the Devil" according to the good Republican conservative Christian Rev. Pat Robertson. Another example comes from a hearing last week in Concord. A resolution was introduced calling for the defunding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) before the State and Federal Relations Committee.

The bill of particulars condemning ACORN came largely from a highly edited DVD by conservative activists who posed as prostitutes/pimps seeking small business and tax advice from some of the Association's offices. The actors in this political sting had been turned away from other offices, but were able to film in several different locations last September. As soon as ACORN, the nonprofit advisory group for the poor, homeless, and sick heard about the incidents, the offending and irresponsible employees were fired, as they should have been.

For the Right this was a great mobilizing opportunity. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushed model legislation similar to the defunding resolution to push their cause. The New Hampshire Republican Party loves to use ALEC resources.

For evidence-based observers, however, there are difficulties with this action. First, the Congressional Research Service released a report on December 22, 2009 largely exonerating ACORN based upon legal research.{http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/us/24acorn.html} But even more importantly, singling out ACORN for misconduct, which has received $53 million in the last 15 years without looking at other offenders is disproportionate and ludicrous. At the hearing, testimony critical of the resolution was offered about 8 federal contractors in the top 100 misconduct database provided by the Project on Government Oversight (http://www.pogo.org/) with sizable operations in New Hampshire. They include Raytheon, BAE, Honeywell, IT&T, Shell, FedEx, Exxon, and AT&T. These eight companies have been found guilty in 148 violations of the law and associated contract fraud. They have been assessed to $4.9 billion in fines in the last 15 years. Most importantly, these contractors were not debarred and in 2007 received $32.7 billion in contracts.(in 1 yr 617 times as much as ACORN in 15 years)

ACORN terminated its irresponsible employees but was still defunded by the House and the Senate (ACORN is fighting this as a "bill of attainder"). There is no evidence of accountability of the eight federal contractors other than fines paid. Perhaps the right wing agenda item, if it were to be applied consistently would debar companies engaged in repeated and serious misconduct.

For the New Hampshire voter, I advocate evidence-based reason in determining the credibility and validity of claims against the weak and powerless, and in evaluating the positions, facts, and criticisms of those who want your votes in upcoming elections.

Sincerely yours,
Charles F. Weed, representative Cheshire three
28 Damon court, Keene New Hampshire

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