Why different standards for ACORN and Halliburton?

Recently, Congress voted overwhelmingly to suspend funds for ACORN.  Never mind that the bill violates the Constitution’s prohibition on Bills of Attainder (singling out a single group or individual for punishment).  According to Republicans, ACORN must be punished for the actions of a few of its staffers.

Why suspend funds from an organization that has a long history of helping the poor?  The short answer is that ACORN has made it more difficult for Republicans to be elected, and Democrats are simply afraid to be painted as too partisan. 

During last year’s presidential election, ACORN invoked the fury of conservative talk radio and Fox News by registering voters.  Since most of these newly registered voters were minorities and/or poor it is assumed that they voted for President Obama.  Of course, the conservatives cried foul.  They accused ACORN of helping to steal the election.  They claimed that ACORN had registered tens of thousands of illegal votes.  There were widely publicized registration forms for Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, etc., which seemed to point to widespread voter fraud. 

The problem with that argument is that ACORN pays members to register voters.  Since the members are paid by the number of registration forms filled out, some of these people inevitably try to scam the system.  ACORN recognizes that possibility, and since it has to account for every single voter registration form, the organization sorts the forms into three categories before submitting them to the local voter registration office:  Those that can be confirmed, those that cannot be confirmed, and those that are obviously fraudulent.  Therefore, if there is fraud, it occurs at the voter registration office.  ACORN should not be held accountable.

Nevertheless, Republicans felt they must do something to rid the country of ACORN, so a few enterprising conservatives went looking for evidence that ACORN is a renegade organization defrauding the American public.  Two young people posed as a pimp and a prostitute and visited ACORN offices looking for advice on how to run a brothel and funnel the money into a Congressional campaign.  In three offices, ACORN volunteers provided advice.  In another, the ACORN volunteers recognized the scam and “punked” the actors. 

There is no question that those who provided the advice should be fired.  And they were.  But attacking an organization of more than 500,000 members for the bad behavior of a few is ridiculous.  If we’re going to use that standard for all organizations receiving money from the federal government, then why not suspend all further contracts with Halliburton?  After all, the sloppiness of a few employees in its KBR subsidiary caused numerous soldiers to be electrocuted in Iraq.  There are also accusations that several Halliburton employees gang-raped a woman in Iraq.  When the woman tried to sue Halliburton for her treatment, she was told that the fine print in her contract prevents lawsuits.  Finally, there is alleged evidence that Halliburton has defrauded the government out of millions of dollars.  Yet there is no parallel outcry against Halliburton such as that against ACORN.  No legislation to withhold funds.

Or how about Blackwater, aka XE?  Blackwater mercenaries have been accused of murdering Iraqi civilians and raping Iraqi women.  Yet XE still receives lucrative contracts with the Defense Department.

There can be only two explanations:  Money and influence.  Halliburton and XE have them.  ACORN does not.