In comments Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) said that his committee had uncovered evidence that the Obama Justice Department deliberately shuttled settlement money away from conservative organizations so that liberal groups could pick up the lion’s share of the cash.
The revelation, which comes months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions put an end to the practice of putting DOJ settlement money into a slush fund, is yet another instance of the Obama administration using what should be a non-partisan tool to fund partisan interest groups. In many ways, this is the accompanying note to the IRS scandal that dogged the administration for years (and, frankly, has STILL not been properly resolved, even now).
“It is not every day in congressional investigations that we find a smoking gun,” Goodlatte said. “Here, we have it.”
Goodlatte’s evidence came in the form of internal DOJ emails which show quite plainly that there was quite a bit of favoritism being played in the halls of Eric Holder’s Justice Department. In one emails, a senior DOJ official expresses reluctance to see the money from a major settlement to a conservative law firm.
“Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights legal services),” wrote the official. “We are more likely to get the right result from a state bar association-affiliated entity.
In another series of emails, we see outside organizations and internal officials praising then-Associate Attorney General Tony West for shuttling money to liberal interests.
“Now that it has been more than 24 hours for us all to try and digest the Bank of America settlement, I would like to discuss ways we might want to recognize and show appreciation for the Department of Justice and specifically Associate Attorney General Tony West,” wrote Charles Dunlap of the Indiana Bar Association in 2014.
A person named Bob LeClair responded: “Frankly, I would be willing to have us build a statue and then we could bow down to this statue each day after we get out $200,000.”
Making matters worse, Goodlatte reminded his colleagues on the House floor that Obama administration officials had previously denied having any interest in divvying up settlement monies according to political preferences. He recalled that DOJ oversight official Geoffrey Graber testified in 2015 that the 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.”
“But internal DOJ documents tell a different story,” Goodlatte said. “They show that contrary to Graber’s sworn testimony, the donation provisions were structured to aid the Obama administration’s political friends and exclude conservative groups.”
Right now, at this very moment, Democrats are trying to accuse the Trump administration of foul play in their awarding of an energy contract to a small Indiana firm. But you’ll notice that neither now nor then did they have anything to say about the Obama administration’s unacceptable, illegal, and unethical use of lawsuit settlements to fund liberal special interest groups.
What a shock.