Rep. Alan Grayson on de-funding corrupt defense contractors
Glenn Greenwald Radio (Salon)
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) -- my guest on Salon Radio today -- yesterday pointed out that the bill passed by both the Senate and House to de-fund ACORN is written so broadly that it literally compels the de-funding not only of that group, but also the de-funding of, and denial of all government contracts to, any corporation that "has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency." By definition, that includes virtually every large defense contractor, which -- unlike ACORN -- has actually been found guilty of fraud. As The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim put it: "the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops."
I spoke with Rep. Grayson this morning regarding the consequences of all of this. He is currently compiling a list of all defense contractors encompassed by this language in order to send to administration officials (and has asked for help from the public in compiling that list, here). The President is required by the Constitution to "faithfully execute" the law, which should mean that no more contracts can be awarded to any companies on that list, which happens to include the ten largest defense contractors in America. Before being elected to Congress, Grayson worked extensively on uncovering and combating defense contractor fraud in Iraq, and I asked him to put into context ACORN's impact on the American taxpayer versus these corrupt defense contractors. His reply: "The amount of money that ACORN has received in the past 20 years altogether is roughly equal to what the taxpayer paid to Halliburton each day during the war in Iraq."
The irony of all of this is that the Congress is attempting to accomplish an unconstitutional act: singling out and punishing ACORN, which is clearly a "bill of attainder" that the Constitution explicitly prohibits -- i.e., an act aimed at punishing a single party without a trial. The only way to overcome that problem is by pretending that the de-funding of ACORN is really about a general policy judgment (that no corrupt organizations should receive federal funding). But the broader they make the law in order to avoid the Constitutional problem, the more it encompasses the large corrupt corporations that own the Congress (and whom they obviously don't want to de-fund). The narrower they make it in order to include only ACORN, the more blatantly unconstitutional it is. Now that they have embraced this general principle that no corrupt organizations should receive federal funding, how is anyone going to justify applying that only to ACORN while continuing to fund the corporations whose fraud and corruption is vastly greater (not to mention established by actual courts of law)?
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