"ACORN should be held to the same high standards of every other government contractor," says Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida. "But there are bigger fish to fry."
Before being elected to Congress, Grayson was a former government contracts lawyer and brought False Claims Act cases on behalf of whistleblowers against contractors, including many in Iraq. He now sits on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees of both the House Financial Services Committee and House Science and Technology Committee.
"We can't have a situation where the laws of justice are applied to one organization and not to any of the others, particularly when there are organizations that are polluting water for our soldiers and electrocuting them," Grayson says.
Contractor KBR installed electrical wiring in Iraq that led to electrocution deaths of US soldiers. One such death, of Green Beret Sgt. Ryan Maseth, was classified by the Army Criminal Investigations Division as a "negligent homicide," though the Pentagon ruled it would not pursue criminal charges.
The Florida Democrat says that the legislation the House passed characterized as banning federal funds from ACORN is actually much more broadly written than that, and could impact hundreds of companies if signed into law.
The House bill, offered by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., bans Federal contracts, grants, funds, and agreements from any covered organization — including "(a)ny organization that has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency."
"De-fund the crooks," he says. "The numbers of those who have filed fraudulent forms with the government — it's like a who's who of government contracting."
Lockheed Martin, Boeing Company, Raytheon, General Dynamics — major companies are cited on the Project on Government Oversight's "Contractor Misconduct" website, Grayson points out.
He says he hopes president Obama signs the legislation so as "to rid us of this plague."
Asked for comment, Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella told ABC News, "frankly, I don’t know how anyone can successfully argue those who actually perpetrate fraud and misuse taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be held to a more scrutinized standard. But if people want to start a crusade defending federal dollar recipients who have committed fraud and mismanaged taxpayer dollars – they are welcome to make that case to the American people. For far too long, recipients of federal dollars have been given free reign and some have acted in a reckless and cavalier way and whether it be ACORN or anyone else – abuse and fraud will not be tolerated."