Bill to end Obama-era 'slush fund' policy headed to Senate

U.S. House committee's approval of a bill to stop an Obama-era "slush fund" policy marks the end of now former U.S. Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch's misdirection of money from enforcement actions, a Florida congressman who co-sponsored the legislation said during a recent interview.

“During the Holder-Lynch reign, the Department of Justice would direct money obtained in enforcement actions to political activist groups that aligned with the Obama administration’s policies,"  U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) from Florida's 6th District said during a Florida Business Daily email interview. "In some instances, this was done to restore funding in areas that Congress had cut."

In a mostly partisan vote Monday, H.R. 732 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. Called, "The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act", the bill is intended to end a long-standing strategy to funnel money from enforcement actions into donations. Introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act prohibits government settlement agreements that require donations to a third party group.

The current process thwarts the purpose of government enforcement actions, DeSantis said. "The purpose of enforcement actions is punishment of wrongdoing and redress to actual victims," he said. "Moreover, unlike the U.S. Department of Justice, Congress possesses the power of the purse and serves as the representative of the taxpayers."

Supporters of the legislation, which include FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform, say the bill is one of a list of reforms. DeSantis said he also is watching HR 850, introduced Feb. 3 by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), which would require all federal agencies direct monies acquired through fines, fees or settlements to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Last spring, an identical bill, HR 5063, passed the house by a 241-174 vote. All Republicans in the House who participated in the vote cast a aye vote, as did five Democrats. The Democrats who voted in favor were John Bradley "Brad" Ashford of Nebraska, Scott Peters of California, Collin Clark Peterson of Minnesota, Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Henry Cuellar of Texas, all of whom are so-called "Blue Dog Democrats" who often vote conservative.

That bill had 32 co-sponsors when it passed the House, including DeSantis and two other Florida congressmen, Republicans Matt Gaetz and Bill Posey.

"The Stop Settlements Slush Fund Act will restore the budget authority of Congress, ensure that money obtained in DOJ enforcement actions goes to the victims or to the treasury, and provide a check against the DOJ’s practices," DeSantis said.

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