Phone-tamperer O’Keefe’s bad week gets worse: Judge rules ACORN defunding unconstitutional

James O’Keefe has admitted spearheading a misguided “phone-tampering” operation at Sen. Mary Landieu’s office in New Orleans this week. “As an investigative journalist, my goal is to expose corruption and lack of concern for citizens by government and other institutions,” writes O’Keefe. “On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building.”

As O’Keefe’s employer, right-wing media man Andrew Breitbart, dismisses the incident as mere clowning, a federal judge ruled today that the move by Republican lawmakers to cut funding from the controversial housing advocacy and voter-registration organization ACORN based on a hidden camera “investigation” produced by O’Keefe last year was illegal, a fact many lawmakers and their advisers knew to be true at the time.

The AP:

Investigative journalist O'Keefe
Investigative journalist O'Keefe

NEW YORK — The U.S. government’s move this fall to cut off funding to ACORN was unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday, handing the embattled group a legal victory.

U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon issued the preliminary injunction against the government, saying it’s in the public’s interest for the organization to continue receiving federal funding.

ACORN claimed in its lawsuit that Congress’ decision to cut off its funding was unconstitutional because it punitively targeted an individual organization.

Gershon said in her ruling that ACORN had raised a “fundamental issue of separation of powers. They have been singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial, or even administrative, process adjudicating guilt.”

As former prosecutor Florida Rep. Alan Grayson has pointed out time and again, citizens pay more in one day to federal contractor Haliburton than taxpayers have given to ACORN in the last twenty years. Haliburton and many other defense contractors have been convicted of fraud, mostly for overcharging the government but also for gross negligence, as when Haliburton put in faulty showers in Iraq that electrocuted soldiers. ACORN has not been convicted of fraud. Grayson says the bill passed by Republicans to defund ACORN may result in broad “collateral damage” if lawmakers decide to go after contractors like Haliburton the way Republicans went after ACORN.

Grayson on the illegality of defunding ACORN:

Grayson on the ramifications of the bill and its effects on much larger federal contractors.

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