The saga of the embattled anti-poverty group ACORN has taken a new twist, with the disclosure of a Justice Department opinion that a vote by Congress to cut off all federal funding to the group should not affect contracts signed before it was passed.
A spokesman for the Republicans in Congress has already blasted the decision as "shameful."
According to The New York Times, soon after Congress voted in September, a lawyer for the Department of Housing and Urban Development asked the Justice Department how it should handle pre-existing contracts with ACORN. Much of the money which ACORN receives from the federal government is in the form of HUD grants involving the provision of affordable housing.
In an October 23 memorandum (pdf), which has just been released, Acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron replied that the language of the bill was ambiguous but his opinion was that those contracts could not be breached "where doing so would give rise to contractual liability."
Barron was specifically concerned with "cases where performance has already been completed but payment has not been rendered," which he argued could raise questions of constitutionality if payment was withheld.....................more....