Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fox News attacks ACORN over grant to give smoke detectors to low-income families

Fox News' Bill Hemmer criticized the Department of Homeland Security for awarding a since-rescinded fire prevention grant to ACORN, ignoring that the Bush administration awarded similar grants to ACORN in 2007. Moreover, other Fox personalities and The Washington Times claimed that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) "made this public," even though the grant was reported on long before Vitter mentioned them.


Fox News' Hemmer: ACORN given "money typically earmarked for fire departments all across the country"

"Doesn't look like much firefighting there." Discussing a $997,402 fire prevention and safety grant awarded to ACORN by FEMA through the Department of Homeland Security, Hemmer juxtaposed file footage of fire trucks and ACORN workers to ask, "[W]hen it comes to firefighting, is this what you think of?" Hemmer went on to report that the funds are "typically earmarked for fire departments all across the country" but did not note that the grant was for fire prevention. [Fox News' America's Newsroom, 10/7/09]

But grant was for "fire prevention and safety activity," and ACORN received a similar one during Bush administration

Bush administration awarded ACORN similar grant in 2007. Hemmer did not note that ACORN received similar funding thorough the same program during the Bush administration. In 2007, ACORN applied for a fire prevention and safety grant through FEMA and was awarded $450,484 in August 2008.

ACORN was to distribute smoke detectors, other equipment. ACORN reportedly planned "to use the money to assess fire safety in the homes of low and moderate-income families and hand out smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and other fire prevention gear." [Associated Press, 9/16/09] (Following Hemmer's report, The Hill's Tony Romm wrote in an October 7 blog post: "The Department of Homeland Security initially earmarked the money for ACORN long before House and Senate lawmakers mobilized to cut the group's access to federal dollars, but FEMA never followed through and provided ACORN the money.")

FEMA lists "community organizations" as eligible for grants in guidelines

From FEMA's Program and Application Guidance document:

A.     Fire Prevention and Safety Activity

Eligible applicants for this activity include fire departments, and national, regional, state, local, or community organizations that are recognized for their experience and expertise in fire prevention and safety programs and activities. Both private and public non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for funding in this activity. For-profit organizations are not eligible to receive a FP&S grant award. For all grantees the Federal share of the project cost (i.e., amount of Federal award dollars) is limited to $1 million per application.

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