Tipton Votes to Close DOJ Slush Fund, Preserve Congress’s Budget Authority
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted on Wednesday for the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016 (H.R. 5063), a bill that would ensure any settlement money recovered by the federal government is returned to the American people.
“We’re seeing the Department of Justice undermine Congress’s budget authority by diverting settlement money to private groups that have a pattern of political activism,” Tipton said. “Any settlement money the federal government recovers should go directly to wronged parties or to the Treasury for elected representatives to appropriate.”
H.R. 5063 was introduced after an investigation by the House Committees on Judiciary and Financial Services revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had required defendants of civil actions on behalf of the United States to donate as much as $880 million to private groups over a 20-month period.
“It’s disturbing that officials in our nation’s highest law enforcement agency have not only funneled money to private groups that actively work to advance the Administration’s political agenda, but it appears that in some cases the Department has also used the settlement money to restore funding that Congress had purposefully cut,” Tipton added.
In 2011, Congress cut funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for housing counseling grants that would go to private activist groups. In July and August 2014, the DOJ announced mortgage-lending settlements with Citigroup and Bank of America that required the lenders to donate billions of dollars in “consumer relief” to HUD-approved “housing counseling agencies,” which included private activist groups.
In a May 2015 letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, leaders of the House Committees on Judiciary and Financial Services wrote, “We are concerned that a substantial amount of the settlement proceeds are not going directly to consumers who have been genuinely harmed. Instead, it appears that DOJ is systematically subverting Congress’s budget authority by using the settlements to funnel money to favored activist groups.”
“The House is working to restore Constitutional authority and government accountability with our Better Way agenda. Enforcing checks on spending with policies like H.R. 5063 is critical to this work,” Tipton said.
H.R. 5063 passed the House by a vote of 241-174. The House’s Better Way Agenda can be viewed at www.better.gop.