Outrage over misuse of public funds is a healthy reaction to those who cheat taxpayers. It can also create interesting bedfellows, as newly-introduced legislation in the House demonstrates.
HR 3571, aimed at “de-funding ACORN,” would ban federal contracts and most federal funds to any organization that “has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency,” among other things. (Complete bill is below.)
As. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) observed correctly, fraud by those who receive government funds involves much “bigger fish” than ACORN–and bigger dollar amounts of alleged fraud.
“We can’t have a situation where the laws of justice are applied to one organization and not to any of the others, particularly when there are organizations that are polluting water for our soldiers and electrocuting them.” Grayson presumably was referring to allegations that KBR’s performance of government contracts for our troops has caused soldiers to be electrocuted and otherwise endangered.
Rep. Grayson is on target. He saw these abuses as a lawyer vindicating the public’s interest in fighting fraud in pursuing qui tam whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act, the nation’s primary civil statute for combating fraud and false claims against the government.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Dan Issa (R-CA) appeared to agree with this principle–“abuse and fraud will not be tolerated,” as his spokeperson told ABC News.
Battling fraud against taxpayers can and should be a universal concern of both parties. Let’s see whether this bill is weakened by those who reap the most rewards from cheating the public. The full text of the proposed legislation is below: