The Hill, UPI uncritically reported false GOP claim that Dems steered recovery money to ACORN

››› ››› LILY YAN

The Hill and United Press International forwarded the frequently repeated Republican falsehood that Democrats steered money to ACORN in the recovery bill, with The Hill writing that Rep. Dave Camp "took a particular shot at ACORN, the controversial grassroots group that has lobbied for Democratic candidates, saying that the stimulus bill unfairly benefited the group." In fact, the act does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.

In a February 21 article, The Hill forwarded the frequently repeated Republican falsehood that Democrats steered money to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Discussing Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)'s response to President Obama's weekly address, staff writer J. Taylor Rushing uncritically reported: "Camp took a particular shot at ACORN, the controversial grassroots group that has lobbied for Democratic candidates, saying that the stimulus bill unfairly benefited the group." Similarly, a February 21 report by United Press International quoted Camp saying, "Despite promises of openness and transparency, it was written in a backroom and rushed through Congress so quickly that few -- if any -- members of Congress read it," before uncritically reporting that Camp "cited 'billions that could go to scandal-plagued groups like ACORN' -- a grassroots voter registration group often accused by Republicans of perpetrating fraud -- as an example of lack of oversight."

In making the claim that the recovery bill steers money to ACORN, Republicans have pointed to a provision in the bill that would, in the law's final version, 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." In fact, neither that provision nor any other provision in the act mentions ACORN or otherwise singles 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,' " 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." Lewis also 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."

As Media Matters documented, The Hill previously reported that ACORN is a "beneficiar[y] of the stimulus package" and uncritically reported the false suggestion by National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain that the stimulus bill includes "a $4.2 billion bailout" for ACORN. Other outlets and media figures who have forwarded the false claim that the recovery legislation steers money to ACORN include the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Times, Fox News' Dick Morris, Fox News' Karl Rove, Fox News' Steve Doocy, Fox News' Carl Cameron, CNN's Lou Dobbs (on two occasions), and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

From the February 21 Hill article:

The GOP response came from Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, who accused Democrats of "railroading" the stimulus plan through Congress and adding to an "already lousy" spending record.

"Despite promises of openness and transparency, it was written in a back room and rushed through Congress so quickly that few -- if any -- members of Congress read it," Camp said.

Camp took a particular shot at ACORN, the controversial grassroots group that has lobbied for Democratic candidates, saying that the stimulus bill unfairly benefited the group.

Camp said Obama and congressional Democrats have a chance to correct their oversight as early as Monday's Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House, which will focus on the fiscal health of the Medicare and Social Security programs.

Camp called the summit "an important step" in determining whether the president will work with Republicans, saying the same of the budget Obama is likely to release at the end of the week.

"Republicans genuinely want to work with the president to solve those problems -- in a responsible way that does not burden our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt," Camp said. "If he is serious about dealing with the tough issues and getting spending under control, the budget will show it."

From the February 21 UPI article:

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, delivered the GOP response to U.S. President Barack Obama's weekly radio and Internet address by blasting the process by which the Democratic-led Congress "railroaded" the measure.

"Despite promises of openness and transparency, it was written in a backroom and rushed through Congress so quickly that few -- if any -- members of Congress read it," Camp said. He cited "billions that could go to scandal-plagued groups like ACORN" -- a grassroots voter registration group often accused by Republicans of perpetrating fraud -- as an example of lack of oversight.

Camp said Republicans were looking forward to Monday's Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House as a chance to urge Obama and congressional Democrats to "solve those problems ... in a responsible way that does not burden our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt."

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The Hill, United Press International
Stories/Interests
Economic Recovery Plan
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