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Why Did FEMA Give ACORN Money for Fire Prevention?

Posted on December 1 2010 4:00 pm
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No, this is not from the Onion: A federal agency gave tax dollars to a group known for (metaphorically) burning down communities to help prevent fires.

An affiliate of the notorious activist group ACORN improperly got its hands on a nearly $500,000 fire safety and prevention grant, says a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. (It was a FEMA grant from August 2008 in the sum of $450,484.) ACORN has a long history of fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer dollars, so this new report doesn’t come as a surprise to longtime ACORN watchers.

Why the grant maker, FEMA, thought it was a good idea to give the ACORN Institute, an incubator for radical community organizers, money to promote fire safety, is unclear. According to a news report:

In the findings, obtained by, the inspector general’s office said that FEMA went against the advice of an evaluation panel to hand out the $450,484 grant to the ACORN Institute in New Orleans. From there, not all of the money could be tracked.

“We concluded that the ACORN Institute should not have received these funds, did not fully implement and evaluate the program as approved and could not substantiate all its grant expenditures,” the report said.

The report said that ACORN applied for the fire safety and prevention grant — meant to fund efforts to distribute and promote the use of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers – by claiming to operate programs that did not yet exist. The institute claimed to have partnerships with local fire departments through the “Urban Fire Initiative,” when in fact, that initiative “did not exist prior to the grant application.”

FEMA reportedly reduced the size of the grant request from the original figure of $1 million. The ACORN Institute was unable to account for almost $161,000 of the federal money it took in.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is widely expected to take the gavel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when the 112th Congress convenes in January, said in a press release: “It is really unthinkable that anyone would use the guise of public safety and helping victims of a tragedy like Hurricane Katrina as a calculating way to inappropriately obtain taxpayer dollars.”

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