The Obama administration will most likely go down in history for the convoluted schemes — both in political circles and in government — it perpetrated during Obama’s time as President.
According to Fox News, one such scheme seems to have been proven with hard evidence. An email from 2014 reveals that a senior DOJ official had “concerns” about who would receive lawsuit settlement funds and said they didn’t want it going to a group involved in “conservative property-rights legal services.”
Under former-President Obama, while Eric Holder was US Attorney General, the scheme operated like this: The Department of Justice would identify lawsuits against large corporations and permit prosecutors to strike a plea bargain settlement agreement to make the lawsuit go away. The settlement involved sending money to groups not involved in the case, typically organizations of the DOJ’s choosing. These organizations would then be able to donate the funds to politicians or causes they supported, which was typically left-wing in ideology.
Under President Trump, the DOJ no longer engages in this scheme. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated in June: “When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power.”
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is championing the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017, released a number of internal Justice Department emails that prove officials under former-President Obama were not only cherry-picking which organizations received settlements, but also preventing funds from ever going to conservative organizations.
The email from 2014 chronicled a number of concerns about how the Citigroup settlement money would be used. According to the email: “Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights legal services).”
Pacific Legal Foundation CEO Steven D. Anderson responded saying he was “flattered” by the DOJ’s concern: “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 says these emails prove the “abuse of power” former-President Obama’s administration was willing to wield. “Aiding their political allies was only the half of it. The evidence of the Obama DOJ’s abuse of power shows that Tony West’s team went out of its way to exclude conservative groups,” Goodlatte said.
Tony West, a former-President Obama appointee, served as the Associate Attorney General between 2012 and late 2014 — the DOJ’s third highest ranking official during that time.
Further, emails show the appreciation these selected groups had for West’s efforts. One particular email from a person named Bob LeClair states, in response to how they should show appreciation for the influx of funds, “Frankly, I would be willing to have us build a statue [of West] and then we could bow down to this statue each day after we get our $200,000.”
Even more disturbing then the “slush fund” scheme is that the DOJ was misleading when asked about it. Geoffrey Graber, oversight authority for the DOJ’s big bank settlements, said in a congressional hearing that their department, “Did not want to be in the business of picking and choosing which organizations may or may not receive any funding under the agreement.”
Former-President Obama’s DOJ kept funding from conservative groups. Should an investigation be started?
These emails prove that the DOJ under former-President Obama was exploiting these settlement cases to fund their own interest groups. They were robbing the funds that were meant to go to victims of the cases’ offenders, and then the American people, in order to further their political agendas.
These officials under former-President Obama need to be held accountable for these incredibly unethical practices and further investigations need to be executed to determine just how deep this scheme went before the Trump administration ceased the practice.