This week the House of Representatives passed a bill to end the strong-arm tactics used by the executive branch to solicit donations. In a surprising show of bipartisanship, House Democrats joined House Republicans on Wednesday to pass H.R. 5063: the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act. Introduced by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act prohibits government officials from crafting settlement agreements that require any donation to a third party group. This bill is a crucial first step in reining in our bloated executive branch.
As it currently stands, whenever the Department of Justice settles a lawsuit with a corporation or individual, the settlement can include an option to pay back some of the settlement by “donating” it to “approved” organizations. These organizations can and have included groups that engaged in political activities.
These organizations conduct voter registration, engage in community organizing, and donate money to other organizations that share the same ideological beliefs. Meaning that the executive branch can choose to use settlement money to reward their most loyal supporters. Sounds like the executive branch is participating in interest group favoritism doesn’t it?
Remember those multi-billion dollar settlements against the banks? Instead of all of it going to the U.S. Treasury, millions of dollars were funneled into several prominent political organizations. According to the House Judiciary Committee, the amount of money directed to third-party organizations could be close to $1 billion. This is money that should have gone to the U.S. Treasury and used to fund any number of projects to help the American people. Instead the administration chose to use it to further their political agenda.
Over the past decades the executive branch has continued to grow in power and influence. This has come at the cost of the voice of the American people. The actions of the executive branch are nothing more than political favoritism and do not serve to benefit the American people. This abuse of power must be stopped, and a big step was taken with the passage of H.R.5063, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act, in the House of Representatives. We can only hope that the Senate will follow the example set by House Republicans and Democrats, and pass this crucial bill.
Photo credit: Pictures of Money