House Republicans accused the Obama administration Tuesday of covering up criminal activities committed by the embattled community activist group ACORN, saying that the president has used the group as an illegal political tool to help himself and other Democrats get elected.
"The current administration is fast becoming, in reality, the war room of ACORN's political machine," said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican. "I am concerned that the era of corruption promulgated by ACORN and protected by the White House is just the beginning."
The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said ACORN has engaged in "illegal, partisan activities designed to help individual Democratic members."
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"This (action) goes from city councilmen to state assemblymen all the way to President Barack Obama," he said.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Obama's past ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) will "taint any conclusions" by any Justice Department probe into the group.
Mr. Issa and Mr. Smith made their remarks at a Capitol Hill forum on ACORN that they sponsored. The event was attended by a handful of House Republicans but no Democrats.
Congressional Democrats, while condemning many of ACORN's practices, see no illegal ties between the group and the White House.
Many of the Republican lawmakers used the event to try to link the White House to ACORN - a group under intense scrutiny after hidden-camera videos showed its workers advising a woman posing as a prostitute how to cheat on taxes and loan applications.
The liberal organization also has been accused of voter registration fraud that benefited Democratic candidates in several states.
Mr. Obama served as an ACORN lawyer during his years as a community organizer in Chicago but has cut ties with the group since elected as president.
"When this investigation is finally finished ... these roads following ACORN will lead to the White House," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.
Republicans have pressed the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct a comprehensive investigation of ACORN. They are upset that the Democrat-controlled Congress hasn't launched its own probe.
Congress recently canceled federal funding to ACORN and its affiliated organizations. But the Justice Department released a memo last week concluding that the government should pay ACORN for contracts that were in place before Congress passed the law.