U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced the Justice Department ended settlement payments to third parties. This is a very important change at Justice and shows that this administration is rejecting the Obama / Holder policy of using the department to punish political enemies and reward friends. Sessions said:
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
Here’s a fanciful hypothetical to help understand how this sort of thing works. Let’s say a citizen of Berkeley, California thought the town was violating her Second Amendment rights by forbidding the carrying of firearms. The Justice Department comes in and says “Berkeley you did wrong and if you agree to these settlement terms we won’t do anything.” The terms include a large donation to the National Rifle Association. (I know – it’s a fanciful hypothetical!) Well, that’s how it worked, except as you might imagine it wasn’t the NRA getting donations and they weren’t protecting Second Amendment rights. Here is how the Heritage Foundation’s Paul Larkin described the practice in his thorough excoriation of the process:
The DOJ’s settlement practice is likely illegal for three different reasons. First, the Justice Department lacks the authority to hand over unappropriated government funds to parties of its choosing. The Constitution and federal law dictate how taxpayers’ money can be disbursed, and those authorities teach that it is Congress’s prerogative to decide who should receive federal funds. Congress also takes this constitutional responsibility seriously, as witnessed by the detailed allocations of federal funds made by the annual appropriations bills it passes. Congress does not give the President a lump sum allowance that he can spend as he sees fit. Rather, Congress specifies in detail exactly which person or entity is to receive appropriated funds, how much money each one gets, and for what purposes that money can be used. The DOJ’s settlement practice therefore is an end run around Congress’s constitutional role in deciding how taxpayer money should be spent.
Sadly this sort of corruption was given little attention by the legacy media and their worshipful-ness of President Obama and his Attorney General. Sessions and Trump are to be lauded for simply ending this program which makes a mockery of justice and does violence to the Constitution. They could have turned the cudgel against their opponents and fed the cash to their friends like Obama and Holder, but no Sessions said:
Unfortunately, in recent years the Department of Justice has sometimes required or encouraged defendants to make these payments to third parties as a condition of settlement. With this directive, we are ending this practice and ensuring that settlement funds are only used to compensate victims, redress harm, and punish and deter unlawful conduct.
Trump/Sessions – restoring an apolitical tone to the United States Department of Justice!
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