Rep. Goodlatte: 'Smoking gun' emails prove settlement money was progressive slush fund

“It is not every day in congressional investigations that we find a smoking gun,” Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte said Tuesday on the House floor. Goodlatte revealed emails which he says prove the Obama Department of Justice used settlement money as a slush fund for progressive groups. From Fox News:

While Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general, the Justice Department allowed prosecutors to strike agreements compelling big companies to give money to outside groups not connected to their cases to meet settlement burdens. Republican lawmakers long have decried those payments as a “slush fund” that boosted liberal groups, and the Trump DOJ ended the practice earlier this year.

But internal Justice Department emails released Tuesday by Goodlatte indicated that not only were officials involved in determining what organizations would get the money, but also Justice Department officials may have intervened to make sure the settlements didn’t go to conservative groups…

“Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights legal services),” the official, whose name is redacted in the email, wrote under the title of “Acting Senior Counselor for Access to Justice.”

The official added that “we are more likely to get the right result from a state bar association affiliated entity.”

In response, the Pacific Legal Foundation told Fox News, “We are flattered that the previous administration would be concerned enough about our success vindicating individual liberty and property rights to prevent settlement funds from making their way to Pacific Legal Foundation.”

Goodlatte pointed to another email which specifically identified former Associate Attorney General Tony West (now a VP at Pepsi) as the person responsible for making sure the money went to the correct organizations. “Can you explain to Tony the best way to allocate some money to an organization of our choosing?” one of West’s deputies wrote in 2013.

In a piece published by Forbes, Americans for Limited Government president Rick Manning said, “The Justice Department emails released by Goodlatte show that only approved left-wing groups were eligible for the banks to make payouts to as part of their settlements, overtly excluding deemed to be too conservative.” He added, “What’s worse, is that the settlements often gave the banks double credit if they gave money to the left-wing groups rather than paying the government. Meaning, every $10 million to left-wing groups was counted the same as $20 million to the government.”

An investigation by Rep. Goodlatte’s committee found that over two years the Obama DOJ directed approximately $1 billion to various outside organizations from settlements. In January Goodlatte’s committee requested the DOJ preserve all documents, including emails, related to the settlement money. After Rep. Goodlatte spoke about the emails on the House floor Tuesday, the House voted 238-183 to pass the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017.

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