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Putting an end to government slush funds

I don’t think it’s right that a government agency, such as the Department of Justice, (DoJ), can go after a private entity and basically extort money for activist organizations as part of a settlement agreement.  And yet that is what’s happening.

For example, over the past few years, DoJ has negotiated settlement agreements with banks who contributed to the mortgage crisis almost a decade ago. But instead of dedicating the entirety of this money to paying down our debt or improving public services, the Justice Department has allowed these banks to meet some of their settlement obligations by donating money to nongovernment organizations. This is, by definition, an appropriation of funds–as the Constitution clearly states, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

Furthermore, some of the groups that have benefited from these “donations” have no relation to the mortgage crisis, rather, they were chosen to receive these funds because they serve liberal and political objectives. Evidence even suggests that activist groups actually lobbied DoJ for this funding, indicating a clear political motive in the doling out of these settlement funds.

The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) has directed nearly a billion dollars to activist groups entirely outside of Congress’s spending and oversight authority. This is wrong and the House just voted to stop this abusive overreach when it passed the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016 (H.R. 5063). This important bill ensures that settlement money goes either directly to victims, or to the Treasury where your elected representatives decide how it is spent. It’s time we rein in this President and the abusive tactics of the bureaucracy.

I will continue to work on legislation in the House that returns the proper balance of authority to our federal government, and prevents further abuse of power by the President and his administration.

It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District


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