Washington, D.C.— House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement upon the House Judiciary Committee’s approval of the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017 (H.R. 732) by a vote of 17-8.

Chairman Goodlatte: “Congress must permanently end the abuses Obama’s Justice Department exploited to use settlements to funnel money to their liberal friends. DOJ has failed to listen to the legislative branch’s warnings and now Congress must end DOJ’s practice of funding pet projects with taxpayer funds.”

Background: This bill bars the Department of Justice (DOJ), and all other government agencies, from requiring defendants to donate money to outside groups as part of their settlement agreements with the federal government.

Need for this legislation arose after an extended House Judiciary Committee investigation found that the previous administration’s DOJ had engaged in a “pattern or practice” of systematically subverting Congress’ budget authority by using settlements from financial institutions to funnel money to left-wing activist groups. This bill would permanently end this practice and restore accountability to the appropriations process.

Here are additional details on the Committee’s investigation:

  • An investigation by the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committees revealed that, in approximately just the last two years, the Obama Administration’s DOJ used mandatory donations to direct nearly a billion dollars to activist groups.
  • These payments occurred entirely outside of the Congressional appropriations and oversight process.
  • The House Judiciary Committee held two hearings, in February 2015 and May 2015, to question DOJ officials regarding these troubling settlement practices.
  • The Committees also sent multiple oversight letters including two to DOJ (in November 2014 and May 2015) seeking documents and answers.
  • The information provided confirms that activist groups which stood to gain from mandatory donation provisions were involved in placing those provisions in the settlements.
  • This bill is identical to the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016. A legislative hearing on that bill was held on May 28, 2016 within the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.
  • The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016 (R. 5063) passed the House by a vote of 241-174.
  • The House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the DOJ on January 11, 2017, requesting a preservation of all documents related to DOJ’s settlement practices.
  • The investigation is ongoing.