Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) made headlines yesterday for revealing what appear to be politically motivated actions of the previous administration’s Justice Department: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee claims he obtained a ‘smoking gun’ email that proves the Obama Justice Department prevented settlement payouts from going to conservative-leaning organizations, even as liberal groups were awarded money and DOJ officials denied ‘picking and choosing’ recipients,” Fox News reported yesterday.
“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.”
One of the emails from a Justice Department official, dated from 2014, indicates one law firm was barred from receiving settlement funds on ideological grounds:
“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” (emphasis added).
Earlier this year, Goodlatte introduced H.R. 732, the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017,” so as to permanently end the practice of awarding settlement monies to third parties. The bill passed the House of Representatives yesterday.