SF Chronicle reported false claim that $4.19 billion of recovery plan "would go to" ACORN

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

A San Francisco Chronicle article reported the false claim that $4.19 billion of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan "would go to the liberal housing activist group ACORN." In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.

In a January 27 San Francisco Chronicle article, Washington correspondent Carolyn Lochhead reported the false claim -- which she attributed to the group Americans for Limited Government -- that $4.19 billion of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan "would go to the liberal housing activist group ACORN [Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now]." In fact, the bill contains no language mentioning ACORN. The false claim is based on a misrepresentation of a provision that would appropriate $4,190,000,000 "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 provision requires that money will be distributed through competitive processes. It states that, "not less than $3,440,000,000 shall be allocated by a competition" to "States, units of general local government, and nonprofit entities or consortia of nonprofit entities." It also provides that "up to $750,000,000 shall be awarded by competition to nonprofit entities or consortia of nonprofit entities to provide community stabilization assistance."

The $4.19 billion will be distributed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The claim in Lochhead's article echoes material released by House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) office. A January 26 "fast facts" release claimed of the stimulus bill: "The legislation could open billions of taxpayer dollars to left-wing groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which has been accused of voter fraud, is reportedly under federal investigation; and played a key role in the housing meltdown." A January 23 release to which the January 26 document links stated that "the Democrats' bill makes groups like ACORN eligible for a $4.19 billion pot of money for 'neighborhood stabilization activities.' "

The claim also echoes the false smear propagated by several media figures in 2008 that Democrats tried to create a "slush fund" for ACORN in the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

From the January 27 San Francisco Chronicle article:

Two Senate committees are set to take up the stimulus today. The House has scheduled a full vote Wednesday. A House Democratic leadership aide said he believes Republican leaders will make their points and then "let their members go and vote. I just can't see them voting no at a time like this. This is not like 1993."

A Virginia advocacy group called Americans for Limited Government is pressuring moderate Democrats to vote against the stimulus bill, listing $4.19 billion that it said would go to the liberal housing activist group ACORN, $200 million for beautification of the National Mall and other items.

Yet spokesman Carter Clew laughed at the idea that Republicans would kill the whole bill. "We're not quite that ambitious," he said. "The idea is just to limit it some."

Republicans object less to the stimulus itself than to its spending component; they have no objection to cutting taxes.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
San Francisco Chronicle
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