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Crowdsourcing a Legislative Oops

September 22, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

Rep. Alan Grayson is taking advantage of a legislative misfire by overzealous lawmakers. And he’s asking anyone out there to help him.

Last week, the House approved a motion to recommit to a student loan bill that banned funding to the community organization ACORN after employees of the group were videotaped offering advice to two people posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to file fraudulent tax forms. Unfortunately for those seeking to target ACORN, there is no way to single out one organization from receiving federal funds. Therefore the bill drafters banned any organization under investigation for or having been found guilty of committing contracting fraud from receiving federal funds. (The bill also bans federal funds for any organization that violates federal or state election, campaign finance or lobbying disclosure laws.) While this may have seemed like a smart idea, it winds up applying to a large number of defense contractors and others.

If this bill were actually to take effect, the United States of America would probably have a serious aging problem with our Air Force planes fleet. According to the Project on Government Oversight’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, Lockheed Martin has eleven fraud instances and Northrup Grumman has nine. Northrup Grumman has settled one False Claims Act for more money, $325 million, than ACORN has received since 1994, $54 million.

Rep. Grayson has posted a request to help him identify contractor fraud to be placed in the legislative history of the bill when courts review the legislation, which, if this language remains intact, they will. Grayson posted a Google Spreadsheet for anyone to add instances of contractor fraud to. All you need is a reputable source.

Of course, the aforementioned Federal Contract Misconduct Database is a great place to start.

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