WASHINGTON -- Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is pushing for a federal probe of a New York City community organization based on a Fox News report that accused the organization of improperly aiding the Occupy Wall Street movement and linked the group to the now defunct ACORN.
A year after Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now filed for bankruptcy, conservative fascination with the group hasn't waned. And recently, Fox has charged that New York Communities for Change -- which uses office space and some staff that the ACORN used to have, according to Fox -- solicited donations from union members to secretly support Occupy Wall Street.
Now Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has decided the anonymously sourced stories warrant an investigation from United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, who oversees the Eastern District of New York.
NYCC, which has adamantly denied the Fox stories, offered a blistering response to Issa, calling him a "hatchet man" for Fox News.
"Issa, who famously declared that he wanted to hold a hearing a week for forty weeks when he took over the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has largely come up empty," said Jean Sassine, treasurer and a board member of NYCC. "[He's] now scraping the bottom of the barrel, wasting Americans taxpayer money chasing baseless rumors fed to him by Rupert Murdoch."
"It's unfortunate but we expect nothing less from Issa, Murdoch and FOX.”
Issa wrote to Lynch on Monday seeking a probe into NYCC.
"NYCC's close relationship with ACORN and its history of corruption is concerning in its own right, but even worse is NYCC's fraudulent activity," Issa wrote. "NYCC misused the money of hardworking union members in order to fund the Occupy Wall Street movement."
Although Issa couched his charges in some places by using the words "report" and "alleged," he dropped all sense of doubt in that case. Issa also spent a paragraph to repeat allegations about the non-longer operational ACORN.
"ACORN has a long history of illicit activities and actions," Issa wrote.
ACORN was driven out of business more than a year ago under relentless assault from conservative groups who had long been displeased with the group's voter-registration efforts. A series of edited undercover videos that purportedly caught some ACORN workers offering advice to a fake pimp was the final straw that broke the group. Officials found the ACORN workers' behavior to show poor judgement, but ultmately cleared them of wrongdoing.