Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to open investigations into the embattled Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known by the acronym ACORN.
“For years, ACORN has been the subject of allegations of fraud, misconduct and possible criminal activity. In fact, voter registration fraud allegations have led ACORN to be subject to investigation in 15 states,” Smith wrote in a statement attached to letters sent to FBI Director Robert Mueller and Glenn Fine, the Justice Department’s inspector general.
“Despite these serious concerns, Congress and the Administration continue to provide federal funding to a corrupt organization,” Smith continued. “Our democracy depends on the integrity of our election process. ACORN’s efforts to swing election results through voter registration fraud undermine the integrity of our elections and shake the American people’s faith in their government.”
In Smith’s letter to the Mueller, the Judiciary Committee’s highest-ranking Republican asserts that he “no longer” doubts that ACORN “engages in extremely questionable, if not illegal, activity.”
ACORN has faced intensifying scrutiny after the recent release of several disturbing hidden camera videos that showed staffers providing advice on how to falsify tax forms and set-up a child prostitution business—to a man and a woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute.
Smith asks the bureau to examine launching a RICO investigation into ACORN.
“Based on ACORN’s previous conduct and recent reports suggesting continued fraudulent and other illegal activity, it is clear there exists significant justification for federal law enforcement officials to conclude that ACORN should be investigated for potential criminal conduct, including the question of whether the organizations itself is a criminal enterprise,” he wrote.
In his letter to the Justice Department, Smith requests that the inspector general investigate whether some of the department’s grant funding was allocated to ACORN.
“Since 1994, ACORN has received over $53 million in federal funds, yet it has been plagued with numerous instances of wrong-doing and fraud,” Smith wrote. “If in the course of your investigation you find any evidence of criminal conduct I presume that such evidence would be referred to the appropriate U.S. Attorney for prosecution.”