25 Senators who voted to cut off ACORN opposed contracting reform in 2006

Last week's decision by Congress to to bar federal funding to ACORN was notable not only for the lopsided vote margins (83-7 in the Senate, 345-75 in the House) but also because it revealed a rarely-seen zeal in Congress for holding federal contractors accountable.As my colleague Sue Sturgis reported last Friday, 23 of the very same House members who voted to strip ACORN of funding had opposed a measure to investigate scandal-plagued military contractor Blackwater, who had been implicated in killing 17 Iraqi civilians.

But the House isn't alone. Many of the same Senators who voted to de-fund ACORN have also opposed Congressional efforts to tighten rules and hold federal contractors accountable.

Case in point: In 2006, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced the "Honest Leadership and Accountability in Contracting Act," an amendment to that year's defense bill. The bill called for sweeping reform of federal contracting, including new standards against fraud and abuse.

But the bill was quickly defeated by the Republican-led Senate:

Dorgan's bill -- cosponsored by 17 Democrats and called the HonestLeadership and Accountability in Contracting Act of 2006 -- was tabledby a roll call vote of 55-43, effectively rejecting the amendment.Every single Senate Republican voted against the measure to make thecontracting process honest and impose penalties on those who break thelaw.
How did these same Senators vote on ACORN? According to the vote tallies, 25 of the Senate Republicans who opposed contracting reform in 2006 voted to bar ACORN as a contractor in 2009.

Ironically, Sen. Dorgan's bill would have led to tougher standards that would have punished activity similar to that of which ACORN is accused. For example, the bill would have led to an investigation -- or cut-off of funding -- for any contractor that:
* "Executes or attempts to execute a scheme or artifice to defraud theUnited States or the entity having jurisdiction over the area in whichsuch activities occur."

* "Falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact."

* "Makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements orrepresentations, or makes or uses any materially false writing ordocument knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious,or fraudulent statement or entry."
But in 2006, the main concern were defense contractors like KBR/Halliburton, which received billions of dollars in contracts despite at least 18 officially-documented cases of misconduct.