Leftist Group that Gets Millions from U.S. Offers to Pay Legal Fees of Arrested Tax Reform Protestors
DECEMBER 05, 2017
A leftist nonprofit that offered to pay the legal and transportation expenses of tax reform protestors receives tens of millions of dollars from the government, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. The New York City-based group, Housing Works, describes itself as a “healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.” Its mission is to end homelessness and AIDS through advocacy, lifesaving services and businesses that sustain the efforts.
Last week, Housing Works organized a big demonstration in Washington D.C. to protest the Republican tax overhaul and the group plans to return to the Capitol this week to try to keep the measure from passing. A D.C.-based news publication obtained an internal email that reveals Housing Works encouraged supporters to commit illegal behavior. “We will transport, house and feed you, and deal with all legal support,” reads the email to supporters. “Caveat: if you are far away from DC and expensive to transport, we can probably only fly you if you can risk arrest.” Next to the message is a link to sign up. The group described the protests like this: “The Rs voted and fled the room, but were snagged by reporters in the hallway, surrounded by bird-doggers, and shamed for their disgraceful votes.”
Undoubtedly, the measure has ignited controversy because it would be the most sweeping reform of the nation’s tax code in three decades. Americans from all walks of life and groups such as Housing Works have the right to express their opinion and rally supporters to make an impact. But it’s outrageous for a group that receives millions of taxpayer dollars to, not only embolden law breakers, but offer to pay for their legal and transportation expenses. The news publication that broke the story points out that “organizers on either side of the aisle sometimes attempt to coordinate logistics for their teams, but the requirement that an individual need to risk arrest in the District in order to qualify for aid is unique, especially given the fact that hundreds of protesters are facing decades of prison time for violently protesting President Donald Trump’s inauguration.”
What the article failed to mention is that Housing Works gets a lot of money from American taxpayers, the records obtained by Judicial Watch show. Since 2009 the group has received nearly $22 million, including $4.7 million in 2017 alone. The cash flows through the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The biggest chunk of money comes from HUD, the notoriously corrupt and bloated federal agency embroiled in a multitude of scandals. Of the eight grants issued this year, only one—for $1 million from HUD—was issued before Donald Trump became president. The rest were doled out in February, May and August. A $1,187,909 HHS allocation on May 23, 2017 is described in the records as an Obamacare grant for “new and expanded services under the Health Center Program.” Judicial Watch reached out to both agencies for comment on taxpayer funds being used to promote and defend illegal behavior, but telephone calls and emails to their public affairs department went unanswered.
HUD has long been a bastion of corruption under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Ronald Reagan’s HUD secretary, Samuel Pierce, was embroiled in an influence-peddling scandal that saw 16 people, including some of his top aides at the agency, convicted. Bill Clinton’s HUD secretary, Henry Cisneros, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about payments to a mistress. George W. Bush’s HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, was forced to resign during a federal investigation involving cronyism. Under Barack Obama the agency was embroiled in countless scandals, including violating a federal ban on funding for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), allowing a director who simultaneously ran a leftwing nonprofit change agency policies to benefit her group and employees who went on personal shopping sprees with agency credit cards.
In 2012 Judicial Watch sued HUD for records involving a contentious St. Paul, Minnesota case in which the agency unscrupulously meddled with a local issue in the name of race. In an effort to maintain its neighborhoods, the city improved housing enforcement by targeting landlords with a history of violations. A minority contractor claimed that the new code enforcement measures reduced the availability of low-income rentals, causing a disparate impact upon African-Americans. St. Paul got slammed with federal lawsuits and the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to hear the case, but the city backed down amid intense federal pressure.
HHS also has a documented history of wrongdoing, especially involving Obama’s disastrous takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. The agency spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a “guerilla campaign” to promote Obamacare and pumped $1.2 billion into government-funded nonprofit health insurers, known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Programs (CO-OP), that failed. Judicial Watch has been a leader in investigating HHS’s Obamacare embarrassments, including that the agency launched its defective Obamacare website despite known security flaws. Judicial Watch also obtained records showing the Obama Internal Revenue Service (IRS) coordinated with HHS and a hokey White House Behavioral Sciences team in a $5 million program to pressure Americans to sign up for Obamacare.
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