Jeff Sessions announced this week that the U.S. Justice Department will no longer serve as a fundraiser for leftist special-interest groups. The move is long overdue.
At issue was the practice, common under Barack Obama, of forcing big companies that had reached financial agreements with the government to funnel a portion of the loot to progressive activist organizations.
For instance, a $17 billion deal the Justice Department cut with Bank of America in the wake of the housing crisis included provisions that some of the money be directed to liberal nonprofits. In other cases, environmental groups have received settlement funds. The Gibson Guitar Corp. had to cut a check to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Fox News reports, when it settled a complaint that it illegally imported exotic wood.
“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer,” the attorney general said, “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.”
What a radical concept.
Paul Larkin of The Federalist Society summed it up in a 2016 essay. “No private lawyer could give away a client’s settlement money,” he wrote, “and no government lawyer may do so either. It is time for this unlawful practice to end.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel also deserves much credit for a series of columns over the past few years that brought attention to this insidious practice.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the policy overhaul is “welcome news for those of us who respect the rule of law and demand a more accountable government.”