Posted on 07 November 2009 by admin
Posted on 07 November 2009 by admin
WASHINGTON (6 November) – U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District, today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the nation’s economy lost 190,000 jobs in the month of October and the unemployment rate rose from 9.8 percent to 10.2 percent, its highest since 1983:
“With more than 1 million Floridians looking for work, Washington needs to put the brakes on inflicting more damage by passing the $1.2 trillion Pelosi health care plan. The Pelosi plan raises taxes on families and small businesses by more than $700 billion and will result in more jobs being lost. Instead of repeatedly saddling our nation with more taxes and more debt, Congress should pass economic solutions that let families and small businesses keep more of what they earn so they can innovate, grow, and create jobs to turn our economy around.
“The Republican health care plan is a responsible approach to reform. It doesn’t raise taxes during a recession and will lower premiums, making coverage more affordable for families and employers while reducing the deficit by $68 billion.”
Posted on 18 September 2009 by admin
Posted on 16 September 2009 by admin
After sporadic controversy in recent years over the national community organizing group’s political activities, a firestorm has erupted with hidden camera videos showing workers dishing advice to a couple wanting to set up a brothel.
It was a ruse — mini skirt, fur coat and all — but several ACORN workers seemed happy to oblige. In Brooklyn, an employee instructed the couple to not reveal their line of work in seeking a home and to hide earnings in a tin can in the back yard. In Baltimore, a counselor advised how to shield a home full of underage girls from El Salvador.
With their shaky, poorly-lit cinéma vérité aesthetic, the videos have enraged and emboldened critics. Powered by YouTube and Fox News, they have inflicted more damage than past repeated attempts by conservative talk show hosts to link election impropriety to President Barack Obama.
Today conservatives are shouting a collective TOLD YOU SO. Viewers of Glenn Beck have taken up his edict to call newspapers and demand front-page coverage.
And lawmakers jumped to action, calling for a federal investigation and voting Monday to cut off taxpayer funding. Longtime critics renewed calls for the IRS to investigate ACORN’s tax-exempt status.
ACORN calls it a right-wing sham — “Journalism by Borat,” seethed spokesman Scott Levenson — and says a few bad employees, who have been fired, should not indict an entire organization.
The group, formally the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, announced Wednesday it is ordering mandatory training for employees and an independent review.
But it questioned the motives of the admittedly conservative movie makers and called for copies of unedited tapes. “I will clean this house,” CEO Bertha Lewis pledged on CNN.
Even so, the damage may be hard to overcome. Washington has reacted with remarkable speed and force:
• On Friday, the Census Bureau said it no longer wanted ACORN’s help with the 2010 population count.
• On Monday, the Senate voted 83-7 to prohibit housing and community grant funding for the group, citing the videos. Both Florida senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican George LeMieux, were in the majority. House Republicans quickly introduced legislation to do the same and sent a letter urging Obama to take a stand.
• On Tuesday, Sen. Mike Johanna, R-Neb., demanded Attorney General Eric Holder launch an investigation into ACORN, which he said may “have been engaged in illegal activity” by aiding and abetting tax evasion, prostitution, human trafficking, fraud and conspiracy.
• On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, took to the House floor to condemn the group. “I for one will not sit idle and allow my taxpaying constituents to be swindled by an organization that receives millions in federal funds.”
According to lawmakers, the group has gotten about $53 million since 1994. An ACORN spokeswoman said less than 5 percent of its operating budget is federal funding, with the bulk coming from private and foundation donations.
• • •
ACORN was founded in Arkansas in 1970 as an advocate for the poor. With chapters in more than 40 states, the group helps first-time home buyers and tenants. It champions better schools and higher wages for workers.
In 2004, ACORN gathered enough signatures for a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage in Florida. It passed overwhelmingly. The group has fought utilities in Orlando and predatory lending in Miami-Dade.
“There is nothing else that covers the issues and does the multiple things,” said Florida director Stephanie Porta. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in it.”
But ACORN has also engaged in politics. Though ostensibly nonpartisan, the group has been accused of being a front for Democrats, including Obama. As a young lawyer, he represented ACORN along with other plaintiffs in a case against the governor of Illinois, demanding that the state better enforce a new federal “motor voter” law, which allowed people to register to vote when they got their driver’s license.
During the 2008 election, ACORN boasted that it signed up 1.3 million voters, though it was later revealed that 30 percent were rejected for a variety of reasons, including duplicate or incomplete forms.
Some were flat-out fraudulent, leading to investigations in several states and giving weight to Republican complaints. The St. Petersburg Times reported in October how one person tried to submit a Florida registration form for Mickey Mouse. In Nevada, names of the Dallas Cowboys were submitted.
Last week in Miami, authorities announced the arrest of 11 former registration canvassers who submitted nearly 200 bogus forms.
But prosecutors say the Miami workers appear to have been motivated by money, not partisanship. They were paid $8 to $10 per hour to gather signatures and some apparently thought it easier to just make up names.
The workers were turned in by ACORN.
“We think this demonstrates the seriousness with which we take protecting both our good name and the integrity of the voter registration process,” said Brian Kettenring, former Florida head organizer and now deputy director of national operations.
The Florida Division of Elections said it had no concern about voter fraud.
“The department has not received any evidence of widespread attempts to defraud the system,” Secretary of State Kurt Browning said in a statement.
• • •
ACORN’s election activities stirred complaints throughout the 2008 campaign and were constant fodder for conservative pundits. But it mostly remained on the periphery.
A fake prostitute and pimp changed all that.
The guerrilla videos were made by 20-somethings James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, who is a journalism student at Florida International University.
O’Keefe, 25, last made news for undercover videos shot at Planned Parenthood, where he asked that donations be used for abortions of minority babies.
“Why go after ACORN?” Giles told the New York Post. “Because I love America, I love God, and corrupt institutions don’t help that.”
ACORN said it was appalled by the workers’ responses in the videos but also suggested they could have been doctored. The group contends O’Keefe and Giles went to several other cities, including Miami, and were turned away.
On Wednesday, ACORN said the worker in a video from San Bernardino, Calif., was hip to the game and played along by saying she once ran a prostitution business and shot her husband dead in self defense.
Police issued a statement saying both of her former husbands are alive.
Posted on 16 September 2009 by admin
WASHINGTON (16 September) - Today U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District, delivered the following remarks after sending a letter to President Obama asking him to end taxpayer funding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). In addition, Bilirakis co-sponsored H.R. 3571, the Defund ACORN Act, which would prevent any federal funding or support for ACORN. Since 1994, ACORN has received more than $50 million in direct funding from the federal government.
Posted on 24 July 2009 by admin
Posted on 08 July 2009 by admin
WASHINGTON (8 July) – During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) questioned FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on how prepared Florida, and specifically, the Tampa Bay area is for a major hurricane.
Recently a report published by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council titled “Economic Analysis of a Hurricane Event in Hillsborough County, Florida”suggested that a category 3 storm, which is considered major, could result in nearly $20 billion in estimated property damage in the first year after the storm. In addition, the report projected 150,000 job losses and a $9 billion dollar decrease in gross regional product.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Bilirakis asked about the most effective actions families and individuals can take to help federal and state emergency management officials in their efforts to minimize life and property loss that could result from a major hurricane.
“One of my greatest concerns during hurricane season is that a major storm will hit the Tampa Bay area, resulting in loss of life and wide-scale property damage that could cripple our state’s economy,” said Bilirakis. “What are the most effective actions my constituents can take to help federal and state emergency management officials in their efforts to minimize life and property loss that could result from a major hurricane?”
Fugate emphasized that the general public must play an active part in the effort to prepare and respond to a hurricane by having a plan in place, being familiar with first aid, and finally checking on neighbors to determine if they need assistance. He also stressed the importance of heeding calls by local officials to evacuate promptly in the event of a major storm, noting that Tampa Bay area residents would face significant traffic congestion in an evacuation scenario.
“Since this hurricane season has already begun, it is imperative that we all do our best to prepare for what is expected to be a ‘near-normal’ storm year,” Bilirakis added after the hearing. “Disaster readiness should not solely lie on the shoulders of the government. Individuals must properly prepare themselves for the worst case scenario.”
Posted on 26 June 2009 by admin
WASHINGTON (26 June) – U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District, today issued the following statement after opposing the House “Cap & Trade” plan – H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009:
“As Floridians face double digit unemployment for the first time in 34 years, the last thing we need is an energy tax that will drive energy costs through the roof for families and hamstring small businesses who are trying to survive and create jobs. This deeply flawed bill will severely disadvantage American businesses and shift jobs to other nations like China and India who do not cap emissions. We must balance the need to protect our environment with the need for economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately this bill fails to effectively strike that balance and will do more harm than good.
“Congress should instead increase domestic energy production, promote energy efficiency, and encourage private investment in renewable energy technologies as part of a comprehensive plan to address our energy needs.”
on the web: Bilirakis House Site