A stunning new report has been released by Judicial Watch, the Washington watchdog group, that details how the Obama administration directed upward of $1 billion in cash to its liberal and left-leaning friends.
Under the program, corporations caught in illegal activity donated funds to community organizations. The idea was that perpetrators could contribute to a community service. But conservative community organizations were reportedly excluded as leftist groups hit pay dirt under Obama.
Judicial Watch revealed, “Records show conservatives overtly excluded as leftists got $1 billion from companies sued by DOJ.”
The practice is closely related to the overall “sue-and-settle” scheme perpetrated by Obama while he was president.
One branch of that strategy, long run by the Environmental Protection Agency, came to an abrupt halt in recent days as EPA chief Scott Pruitt publicly announced he will scrap the tactic.
Under the scheme, special interest groups were encouraged to sue the government over some alleged issue. Then the federal government would go behind closed doors with the group, create a consent decree favorable to the whims of Obama, and go back to court for approval.
Then with the court’s order, it would impose payments, newly created rules or other restrictions on the American public, whose members had no opportunity to even know about the looming changes, much less sound off on them.
Judicial Watch has been fighting in court for records of Obama’s activities for some time, and Thursday released some records, and some details, of cases in which the government sued various companies.
In the cases it uncovered, the government would sue a private corporation and then, as part of the “settlement,” it would instruct the company to “donate” funding to Obama’s advocates and supporters.
Judicial Watch said the “Obama-era scheme that forced companies sued by the government to fund leftist groups overtly excluded conservative organizations.”
That’s according to records from the Department of Justice itself.
“As part of settlements, the DOJ would often give the corporations – mainly big banks – double credit if they gave money to leftwing interest groups handpicked by the administration instead of paying the government,” the report said.
That means instead of having money from fines or penalties turned over to the government for the benefit of taxpayers, it would go to the special-interest groups Obama liked.
“The new records demonstrate a collaborative effort among high-level officials in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General and the Office of Legal Counsel to ensure conservative groups did not receive any settlement cash,” the report also found.
“The operation is known as a DOJ ‘slush fund’ that filled the coffers of Obama-allied nonprofits such as the National Council of La Raza, Urban League and National Community Reinvestment Coalition,” Judicial Watch reported.
The documents came to light after the DOJ was sued earlier this year over how Obama settled government lawsuits against corporations “by requiring that the corporations make ‘donations’ to leftwing interest groups.”
Judicial Watch said it had uncovered similar practices several years ago when the DOJ’s “Civil Rights Division directed large sums of cash settlements in discrimination lawsuits to organizations that were not officially connected to the lawsuits. Recipients were also leftist groups that aligned with Obama’s ultra-liberal agenda.”
Judicial Watch’s newest findings show how conservative organizations were not only not included on the lists of those groups that might receive donations, but were “singled out.”
One electronic mail from a redacted DOJ source to the OAAG reveals that there was a concern that a case involving Citi excluded the option for a donation to the highly regarded Pacific Legal Foundation, which fights for property rights.
“Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights free legal services)…” the email said.
Another line states the requirement about someone who would “Make donations to categories of entities we have specified (as opposed to what the bank might normally choose to donate to).”
Judicial Watch’s report explained a House Judiciary Committee conclusion from earlier this year was that the “mandatory donations” involved “almost a billion dollars to liberal activist groups in just two years.”
“It gets better. The congressional probe found that ‘activist groups which stood to gain from mandatory donation provisions were involved in placing those provisions in the settlements,'” the report said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly halted the payoff scheme for the DOJ earlier this year.
That sentiment was emphasized in a proposed bill by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who suggested a ban on having federal agencies funnel money to uninvolved third parties.
Pruitt’s announcement, just days ago, was, “We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress.”
“Sue and settle?” is a way that politicians and bureaucrats shift policy by pretending to be in a legal fight with a political ally and altering a specific rule to supposedly avoid a lawsuit.
Patrick Hedger, manager of the Regulatory Action Center at the FreedomWorks Foundation, offers a more detailed description of how this political and legal charade plays out.
“(Government) agencies will sometimes collude with private actors, such as third-party non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, and other activist organizations in order to facilitate an expedited rule-making process that goes outside the normal rule-making,” Hedger told WND and Radio America.
“There will be a faux lawsuit and instead of taking that suit to court, they will settle it out of court, generally behind closed doors, in a process known as a consent decree,” he said. “That consent decree will force the agency to act in a way that’s normally a lot faster and more aggressive than a normal federal rule-making process.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Patrick Hedger: