Press Releases


For Immediate Release
June 3, 2015
Contact: Beth Breeding 202-225-5431

HOUSE PASSES GOODLATTE AMENDMENT TO BLOCK DOJ FROM USING SETTLEMENT MONEY TO FUND PET PROJECTS

WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced an amendment that will prevent the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using settlements to funnel money to third-party groups. The amendment (H.Amdt.319) to the FY16 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2578) blocks funding for negotiating settlements that require a defendant to donate to an organization or individual not involved in the litigation. The amendment passed by voice vote.

This amendment is a significant achievement in the Committee’s “pattern or practice” investigation of the Justice Department. Since November 2014, the House Judiciary Committee has been gathering evidence that DOJ is systematically subverting Congress’s budget authority by using settlements to funnel money to third-party activist groups.

Chairman Goodlatte issued the following statement following the passage of H.R. 2578 (H.Amdt.319):

Chairman Goodlatte: “The passage of this amendment finally puts an end to the serious executive overreach of the Department of Justice in regards to improper donations being allocated in mortgage settlement agreements. A long and difficult investigation led by the House Judiciary Committee shows that the DOJ systematically subverted Congress’s budget authority by allocating donations to third-party groups, rather than to the victims who are deserving of settlement money.

“This is a quintessential example of successful oversight. Congress identified a problem, investigated the issue and then took concrete action to correct the problem. This is also an example of Congress putting partisanship aside and acting to protect its institutional interests. This amendment ensures that settlement money goes either directly to victims or to the Treasury for elected representatives to decide how it is spent.

“I am proud of the work the Committee has done on this issue, and proud of the House for recognizing that this type of executive overreach must be stopped. For the DOJ to funnel money to the administration’s pet projects at the expense of victims who were harmed by mortgage fraud is appalling, and this bipartisan provision remedies this abuse so that settlement money can go to the deserving victims.”  

Click here to watch Chairman Goodlatte’s floor statement prior to the passage of the amendment. 

Background:

An investigation by the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committees reveals that, in just the last eleven months, DOJ has used mandatory donations to direct as much as half- a- billion dollars to activist groups. 

These payments occur 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 (November 2014 and May 2015) to the Attorney General seeking documents and answers.

DOJ continues to resist the information requests, but what little has been provided confirms that activist groups which stood to gain from mandatory donation provisions were involved in placing those provisions in the settlements.    

The investigation is ongoing.

CONGRESSMAN BOB GOODLATTE
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