Remember ACORN (Association of Community Organization for Reform Now)? The liberal organization caught in scandal, voter registration fraud and embezzlement? A group so obviously in the wrong that the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on their funding ban? Well, a number of political action groups, the reincarnation of disbanded ACRON have found a lucrative source of funding–directly from the government. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is funding these leftist organizations by funneling them money from a recent settlement with Bank of America.
Last month, Bank of America agreed to a $16.65 billion settlement with the government over allegations of mortgage related misconduct. It is the largest ever civil settlement between the DOJ and a company. At least $9 billion of the money will go to state and federal government entities, but much of the rest will go towards consumer relief. That translates into debt forgiveness for delinquent borrowers, many of whom hail from heavily Democrat areas of the country.
But the real problem with the settlement is something that Investor’s Business Daily refers to as extortion:
Buried in the fine print of the deal, which includes $7 billion in soft-dollar consumer relief, are a raft of political payoffs to Obama constituency groups. In effect, the government has ordered the nation’s largest bank to create a massive slush fund for Democrat special interests.
The editorial goes on to say, “BofA gets extra credit if it makes at least $100 million in direct donations to IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account) and housing activist groups approved by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).” Guess who those activist groups are? La Raza, Operation Hope, National Community Reinvestment Coalition and Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, to name a few. Groups Aaron Bandler of The Daily Caller says, “have all intimidated banks to give loans to minorities, even if they can’t afford to pay them back.” Many of these groups are associated with or came directly from ACORN.
According to Judicial Watch, a watchdog group that focuses on government transparency, this is not the first time settlements like this have opened a backdoor into liberal activist funding. Judicial Watch points to a similar settlement with Countrywide Financial Cooperation in 2012 and even sued the DOJ in 2010 over “controversial arrangements of funneling big portions of cash settlements from civil rights lawsuits to organizations not officially connected to the cases.” Apparently, the government doesn’t actually have any official guidelines on what makes an organization qualified for settlement funds. And, bonus: there is zero monitoring in place to follow-up on how this money is used. Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch called it “no better than Tammany Hall.”
Sure, damages must be paid, and a percentage should go towards that. But was it so outrageous to assume the rest of this money would go toward a fully-vetted non-partisan relief organization? Or even more scandalous, directly to the treasury to help balance the budget? Instead, Eric Holder, the head of the government department meant to administer independent-minded due process, has found a way to pad the pockets of Democrat support-groups. Just one more flagrant addition to his tarnished reputation as a biased lapdog for the President.