Americans for Tax Reform this week released a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to support H.R. 732, the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017.” H.R. 732, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, would ensure money recovered by the government as part of Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement agreements is returned to the American people.
Currently, whenever the DOJ settles a lawsuit with a corporation or individual, DOJ officials can require defendants to “donate” money to activist groups as part of the terms of the settlement. These groups are typically working towards the same ideological goals as the Executive Branch, and are engaged in activities such as voter registration, community organizing, and donating money to similar ideological groups.
In 2016 similar legislation was passed out of the House with both Democrat and Republican support, but failed to pass the Senate.
With a new Congress, House and Senate lawmakers should again look to pass this common sense legislation that will hold the Executive Branch accountable for its practices and ensure money recovered by the government is returned to the American people.
The language of the letter is below and can also be found here:
February 1, 2017
The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Members of the Judiciary Committee:
I write in support of H.R. 732, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017, legislation that would prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) officials from crafting settlement agreements that require donations to activists groups that are favored by the Administration. All members of Congress should support this important legislation.
As it currently stands, when the DOJ settles a lawsuit Department officials can require defendants to donate money to certain activist groups as part of the terms of the settlement. Not only are these funds not going to deserving victims but more often than not are awarded to activist groups that hold the same ideological views as the Executive.
According to House Judiciary Committee findings, roughly half-a-billion dollars has been diverted away from victims and directed to activist groups in just the last 20 months. Such “slush fund” payments occur outside of the Congressional appropriations and oversight process.
H.R. 732 would prohibit abusive DOJ slush fund payments to activist groups and ensure money recovered in settlements is returned to the American people where it belongs. This bill ensures settlement money goes directly to victims or alternatively to the Treasury where elected officials determine how it is spent.
I urge the Judiciary Committee and all members of Congress to support H.R. 732, the Stop the Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017.
Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
Photo credit: Phil Roeder