On Fox News' Special Report, Carl Cameron repeated a frequent GOP talking point in reporting that "there could be money ... for such organizations as ACORN" included in the economic recovery plan. In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds and has no plans to apply for them.
During the February 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reported that "you heard Mike Pence, the congressman, the member of the GOP leadership, talk about $2 billion for community block grants. That's GOP code for the possibility that there could be money in there for such organizations as ACORN [Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now], that some of the stuff that was so criticized as wasteful, un-stimulative, highly controversial, may have been snuck back in there." Cameron's statement that "there could be money in there for such organizations as ACORN" echoed the frequently repeated Republican claim that Democrats steered money to ACORN in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
In fact, the Conference version of the bill includes a provision that would appropriate $2 billion "for neighborhood stabilization activities related to emergency assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes as authorized under division B, title III of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008." The bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.
Moreover, ACORN has denied that it is eligible for "neighborhood stabilization funds," and has stated that it does not intend to apply for them. After House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) office issued press releases claiming that the recovery bill "makes groups like ACORN eligible for a $4.19 billion pot of money for 'neighborhood stabilization activities,' " in a January 28 press release, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called the claim an "obfuscation" that "was picked up across the right-wing echo chamber and has been used as a fig leaf by conservatives in their attempts to justify their opposition to progressive economic policies." Lewis further stated: "We have not received neighborhood stabilization funds, have no plans to apply for such funds, and didn't weigh in on the pending rule changes." On January 29, Lewis wrote on the Huffington Post, "[L]et's be clear. ACORN isn't getting any of this money. Since it is set aside for non-profit housing developers to help purchase, rehab, and resell foreclosed properties, we aren't eligible for it in the first place."
Media Matters for America has previously documented Fox News' Dick Morris, Fox News' Karl Rove, Fox News' Steve Doocy, CNN's Lou Dobbs (on two occasions), and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh making the false claim that ACORN would receive billions of dollars from the stimulus bill and also noted that news reports by The Hill and the San Francisco Chronicle repeated the falsehood.
From the February 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
[begin video clip]
CAMERON: Republicans continue to insist that the package is filled with nonstimulative waste.
PENCE: What does $2 billion for community organizing going to do to put Americans back to work? What does $1 billion for rationing health care, or millions to purchase green golf carts going to do to get people from the unemployment line to the factory line?
[end video clip]
CAMERON: Critical questions about the contents of this package, but since the legislative language has not been written, lawmakers are increasingly frustrated. They recognize that this will take some serious study -- several hours is a lot when you're a national politician -- and then they'll have to vote on it. But they don't want to appear to be rushing it through, which means this could take a while, and it is possible that some House Republicans could vote against this. A number of them are up for re-election, and though no House Republicans backed the bill in the House a few weeks ago, when it comes to final passage, it's possible that as many as 10 to 15 may break ranks and actually vote for it, Bret.
BAIER: Carl, you know the Hill like the back of your hand. Is it possible, also, that many lawmakers really won't know exactly what is in this legislation because they won't see it all?
CAMERON: Yeah -- no, absolutely. While they say they want time to study it and read it, lawmakers historically seldom read it cover to cover. This is hundreds of pages; staffers will analyze it. And you heard Mike Pence, the congressman, the member of the GOP leadership, talk about $2 billion for community block grants. That's GOP code for the possibility that there could be money in there for such organizations as ACORN, that some of the stuff that was so criticized as wasteful, un-stimulative, highly controversial, may have been snuck back in there. Can't say yet, Bret -- no one's seen the language.