There has been a lot of uproar about how bailed-out companies have spent the billions in TARP funds they received, from giving contractually-mandated bonuses to employees to lobbying Congress for more money.  You may also have heard of the 20 civil and criminal investigations currently going on into TARP fraud.

But where else is this money going?  Quite possibly to lefty groups like ACORN, says Senator Inhofe.  So he and Senators DeMint, Vitter, and Ensign are offering an amendment to the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (FERA), S.386 that “would require TARP recipients to fully disclose any expenditures that are not essential to restoring their solvency.”

PDF of the amendment here.

From his press release:

“My amendment to S. 386 requires TARP recipients to fully disclose any expenditures that are not essential to restoring their solvency,” Senator Inhofe said. “Companies that get bailed out cannot carry on as if it were business as usual.

“I would normally be concerned about interfering with private-sector decision-making, but when these companies take public dollars they cease to be private sector entities in the conventional sense. To date, over 540 companies have received about $600 billion taxpayer from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, supposedly to improve their financial stability.  These include some of the largest corporations and financial institutions in America.  Yet in recent years, many of these same firms found enough money to contribute annually to some of the most radical organizations in the nation.

“Some of these companies have donated to ACORN, Friends of the Earth, Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Conservation International Foundation, to name just a few.  The vast majority of Americans do not support the agendas of these fringe groups, whose excesses have been well-documented over the years.

It’s an extremely overdue but welcome step.  Congress should have included something similar in the original legislation, but were in too much of a hurry to dump all that money out.  We’ll see if Congress is serious about demanding accountability by approving this amendment or if their outrage is a sham.