Defense contractors that were convicted of defrauding the Pentagon received new contracts from the Department of Defense in the amount of $285 billion.
That’s a shocking number.
Even more shocking is the determination of the Department of Defense to continue the practice of steering taxpayer dollars into the bank accounts of contractors that the courts say intentionally stole money from the federal government.
Now, the question is whether Congress will be as tough on multinational corporations with long-term patterns of wrongdoing as it was on a community group that made a few mistakes.
In the fall of 2009, after some embarrassing revelations about misdeeds committed by low-level employees of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Republicans forced Democrats in Congress to move with rare speed and dramatic reach to prevent the allocation of federal money to the advocates for low- and moderate-income families.
In so doing, they established an “ACORN Standard” for policing federal expenditures, which holds that if even a few employees of an organization that feeds at the public trough stand accused of engaging in activities that appear to be inappropriate, then federal funding must be yanked. (And now some of the same players are trying to apply a variation on the standard to Planned Parenthood.)
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was interested in whether the “ACORN Standard” was being applied uniformly, or just to community groups with which President Obama was once associated.
Sanders decided to look at where the real money is spent by the federal government: the Department of Defense.
“The sad truth of the matter is that virtually every major defense contractor in this country has, for a period of many years, been engaged in systemic, illegal, and fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” the independent senator explained in a statement delivered on the Senate floor in the fall of 2009. “We’re not talking here about the $53 million that ACORN received over 15 years. We’re in fact talking about defense contractors who have received many, many billions in defense contracts and year after year, time after time, violated the law, ripping off the taxpayers of this country big time. And in some instances, these contractors have done more than ripping off the taxpayers. In some instances, they have endangered the lives and well being of the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.”