The Department of Justice has issued a memo that would implement a “slush fund” reform that Senator James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, has advocated for several years. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an executive memorandum to prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) officials and all United States Attorney‘s Offices from awarding a litigation settlement agreement as a donation to preferred third-party nonprofits or persons selected by federal employees.
This policy mirrors Senator Lankford’s Stop Settlement Slush Fund Act (S.333), which has been introduced during the last two sessions of Congress. The DOJ executive action is intended to prevent taxpayer-funded settlements from being awarded to partisan special interest groups. In 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that the DOJ, under the Obama administration, kept a list of approved nonprofits that benefit from settlements. In 2011, the DOJ directed $30 million from a banking settlement to left-leaning nonprofit groups, like the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and NeighborWorks America.
“No President or agency should be able to force citizens and businesses to pay settlements that benefit outside special interest groups,” said Lankford. “Previous Department of Justice leadership exerted its authority to require settling defendants to donate money to third parties as a way to avoid Congressional spending authority and funnel money to pet projects and favorite groups. Congress should direct spending authority, not federal bureaucrats. This executive action will provide more transparency and stop the Department of Justice from abusing its authority.”