As President Donald Trump wages war against federal bureaucrats left over from the Obama Administration, lawmakers are taking aim at this practice — instituted by former Attorney General Eric Holder — which effectively funds progressive get-out-the-vote operations by shaking down financial institutions.
A 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed from Kimberly Strassel called the program “a scheme to undermine Congress’s spending authority by independently transferring dollars to President Obama’s political allies.”
On Wednesday, Fox News named two Republicans who have submitted bills to eliminate this “shadowy DOJ slush fund” in both houses of Congress. Reporter Melissa Jacobs writes that “investigators have accounted for $3 billion paid” out through the practice:
While legislation sputtered last year, lawmakers have resurrected an effort to quash the practice with companion bills in the House and Senate.
“Democrats thought it was an attack on Obama,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., speaking to Fox News. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but one of good government. Actions settled by the federal government should go back to the federal government, back to the taxpayer.”
Lankford has introduced the Stop Settlement Slush Fund Act of 2017 while House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., submitted similar legislation in the House.
In late October, Breitbart News reported on the DOJ’s “extortion” policy, though the story gained little national traction in the final weeks of the presidential election. A study by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), titled “Follow the Money: How the Department of Justice Funds Progressive Activists,” shed light on the Obama DOJ’s de facto fundraiser for various progressive groups.
GAI President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer appeared on the SiriusXM program Breitbart News Daily to discuss the new report. Schweizer summarized the policy as an effort “to influence this election”:
What’s really happening here is simple. You’ve got large financial institutions on Wall Street, you’ve got banks like Bank of America, who have in some cases committed financial crimes. I think some of them are real, some of them may not be, but set that aside for a minute. The Department of Justice has gone after them and basically said, ‘You committed these offenses, you’ve got to pay restitution in the form of billions of dollars.’ Okay, they committed the crime, they ought to pay that.
Now, ostensibly that money, those billions of dollars, are supposed to go to the victims of their financial crimes. If your Wall Street broker committed fraud, you’re supposed to be made whole with this money, and the rest of it is supposed to go to taxpayers.
The problem is the Obama Justice Department has been diverting literally more than $650 million to left-wing groups. They do it under the guise of, “Well, you know, if this bank discriminated against lenders racially, we’re going to give this money to these left-wing quote-unquote housing groups to help deal with the problem.”
But that’s not what’s going on. These housing groups are advocacy groups. They’re left-wing organizations. They are registering voters and getting voters out to the voting booth. And they specifically target what they call quote-unquote progressive voters.
So this is taking the Department of Justice, which we’ve experienced so much in recent years has been politicized by this Administration, even further to where now the Department of Justice is transferring money to left-wing groups — in an effort, frankly I think, to influence this election.