In a Justice Department memo Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was ending an Obama administration policy that allowed money from settlement agreements involving high-profile lawsuits to go to unrelated, third-party groups that had nothing to do with the original dispute.
According to Fox News, conservatives have long felt that the program was little more than a “slush fund” for liberal organizations.
In the letter to 94 U.S. attorneys, the attorney general wrote that “(e)ffective immediately, Department attorneys may not enter into any agreement on behalf of the United States in settlement of federal claims or charges, including agreements settling civil litigation, accepting plea agreements, or deferring or declining prosecution in a criminal matter, that directs or provides for a payment or loan to any non-governmental person or entity that is not a party to the dispute.”
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“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” Sessions said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, in recent years the Department of Justice has sometimes required or encouraged defendants to make these payments to third parties as a condition of settlement.
“With this directive, we are ending this practice and ensuring that settlement funds are only used to compensate victims, redress harm, and punish and deter unlawful conduct.” Exceptions may be made if the payments are to an organization that “directly remedies the harm that is sought to be addressed,” if they deal with legal fees directly related to the case, or if the payment is “expressly authorized by statute.” If there are no direct victims, the funds will now go to the Treasury Department.
With Wednesday’s letter, Sessions accomplished one of the Republicans’ primary objectives now that they control the White House… [CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE]