ACORN Scandal Could Embarrass Obama

Why won't Congress investigate allegations of $5 million embezzlement?

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Democrats portrayed Barack Obama's background as a "community organizer" as a plus, something to be admired, something that established his connection to regular people. Even though most people were unable to explain in any meaningful way what a "community organizer" actually did.

You don't hear too much about that aspect of his life these days, possibly because of the questions that keep coming up about ACORN—the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now—and its affiliates: What they do, how they do it, where they get their money, how they spend it, and where the funds that apparently went missing have gone to?

The latest series of questions involves an embezzlement scandal that the News Orleans Times-Picayune says could involve amounts as high as $5 million. "An internal review by the board of directors of the community organization ACORN determined that the amount allegedly embezzled from the community organization was $5 million, well more than the previously reported amount of nearly $1 million," the paper reported Monday, citing a subpoena issued by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, a Democrat.

The news has Republicans fighting mad, especially over Congress's refusal to investigate the matter.

David Norcross, chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association, accused Congress today of shirking its responsibility to the U.S. taxpayers and called on congressional leaders to increase their oversight of the organization.

"ACORN has in great likelihood defrauded the U.S. government and, by extension, the American people," Norcross said in a statement. "While some in Congress may view allegations of ACORN abusing the public trust as an unfortunate inconvenience, the public understands the severity of the accusations, and will hold public officials—who are unwilling to do their jobs—accountable." Going further, Norcross raised the specter of a "special prosecutor" to look into the matter, saying that—with respect to ACORN—the idea now merits "serious consideration."

It is highly unlikely that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder would take such a step—but it may be unnecessary. The investigations currently underway in Louisiana and elsewhere may uncover more than a Washington-centered investigation conducted by nominal "friends of ACORN" ever could. And which could potentially prove embarrassing, very embarrassing, to President Obama and some of his closest aides inside the White House.

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    • Peter Roff

      Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Formerly a senior political writer for United Press International, he's now affiliated with several public policy organizations including Let Freedom Ring, and Frontiers of Freedom. His writing has appeared in National Review, Fox News' opinion section, The Daily Caller, Politico and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.

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