AG Sessions Ends Obama's Settlement Payoffs to Left-Wing Groups

Attorney General Sessions put an end to one of the most corrupt policies of the Obama years. In one of the more unbelievably criminal acts of his "scandal-free" regime, Obama's DOJ bosses blackmailed corporate targeting into paying out money not to the victims, but to their left-wing non-profit allies. (A Washington Post investigation will be forthcoming sometime between now and never.)

Here's how blatantly illegal the Obama slush fund was.

"Requiring mandatory donations or charitable contributions to resolve allegations of criminal wrongdoing likely runs afoul of at least two federal statutes, the Miscellaneous Receipts Act and the Anti-Deficiency Act," noted a 2016 study by the law firm Hogan Lovells.

The United States Attorneys' Manual says that diverting the funds from settlements to anywhere other than the Treasury "can create actual or perceived conflicts of interest and/or other ethical issues."

The Obama administration found a way around that in its 2014 settlements with Bank of America ($16.6 billion) and Citigroup ($7 billion) for fraud related to the 2008 financial crisis. The settlements required the financial institutions to pay, respectively, $100 million and $50 million, to housing-related nonprofit groups, legal aid funds and public or private community development funds, none of which were victims of fraud. Only groups on a government-approved list were eligible.

The administration argued the move was legal because the financial institutions agreed to make the payments prior to officially settling with the Justice Department. Thus, the funds were not technically government money. Supposedly, the financial institutions were "voluntarily" making the payments.

Even the Justice Department conceded that the payments skirted the law. "This kind of relief could not have been ordered by a court, even if the government had prevailed at trial," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Graber said in 2015 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

It was a great deal for the banks since they got $2 of credit toward the settlement for every dollar they donated, money that otherwise would have gone toward forgiving delinquent mortgages. There was no cap on the donations. Bank of America ultimately gave out $112 million, $12 million more than it was required to make. That earned it $215 million in credit toward the settlement, according to the settlement's independent monitor.

In short, Obama robbed victims to fund left-wing hate groups like La Raza. It was a monstrous crime that should have led to legal consequences. But at least the practice is being shut down. Congressional bills have targeted it. And Sessions has blacklisted it.

In a memo sent to 94 U.S. attorneys' offices early Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would end the practice that allowed companies to meet settlement burdens by giving money to groups that were neither victims nor parties to the case.

Sessions said the money should, instead, go to the Treasury Department or victims.

“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, 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,” Sessions said in a statement.

Paul Larkin, a senior legal research fellow at The Federalist Society, described the practice as “improper and unlawful.” He also said the practices were barred by the Appropriations Clause, Antideficiency Act, and the Miscellaneous Receipts Act. 

Frankly, the money should be clawed back. And turned over to the victims. And those officials who engaged in the practice should be sanctioned. But as usual, the left is far more aggressive than conservatives are.

So the left is actively pursuing impeachment. While the right has given Hillary and Holder a pass.