The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill today to limit outside donations to the government and bureaucrats. If enacted into law, it would end the Department of Justice’s slush fund for left-wing activist groups.
The bill, introduced by the committee’s chairman, Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, passed by an 18-6 vote. The proposed legislation states, “An official or agent of the Government may not enter into a settlement agreement on behalf of the United States, or enforce such a settlement agreement, if that agreement includes a term requiring that any donation be made to any person by any party (other than the United States) to such agreement.”
Exception to the rule includes any donation “by a party to provide restitution for or otherwise remedy the actual harm,” the bill states. An example is a donation by an oil company to clean up oil spills in the Gulf Coast, like in the case of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which caused British Petroleum to pay $4.525 billion in fines to the Justice Department two years afterward.
Titled “The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016,” it is also a measure to prevent the Justice Department from funneling more than $1.5 billion to liberal activists, some of whom will actively support Democrats in the upcoming election. The DOJ prosecuted cases against alleged corporate villains. Those companies agreed to settlements which included financial penalties.
According to the Justice Department, some of the penalty money would be paid in the form of donations to nonprofits that aid consumers and bolster neighborhoods. One such case was in 2013, when the DOJ reached a settlement with Bank of America, which contained a provision that potentially gave nonprofit groups, like the National Urban League, another $490 million.
In a statement released by his office, Goodlatte said, “When DOJ recovers money from parties who have broken the law, those funds should be going to victims, or to the Treasury so that Congress can ensure accountability for how the funds are spent. These funds should not be funneled to the president’s pet liberal groups.”
“Damages recovered by DOJ officials from settlements with major financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis should not be going into the pockets of left-wing special interest groups, while Congress is working to help hardworking Americans recover,” the representative added.
The bill includes a penalty of removing bureaucrats if they are found to have these funds, in accordance with the U.S. Code of Regulations.
The Justice Department has yet to release a statement regarding the bill. A spokesperson declined to comment.