Hart: Trump administration ends government shakedown practices

Hart: Trump administration ends government shakedown practices

August 11th, 2017 by Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

Buried in all micro-drama distractions of the Trump administration are many of the good things it has done. One of the many under-reported accomplishments occurred in June, when Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions said the Department of Justice would reverse one of the sleazy practices of the Obama administration: allowing prosecutors to cut deals with corporate targets to direct payment of settlements to their pet political causes.

These "slush funds," created from DOJ prosecutions of American corporations, allowed the hyper-political Obama administration to direct settlement money to politically favored causes. Settlements were sent to the likes of the National Council of La Raza, a Democrat activist group, and other "community redevelopment" and nonprofit "legal aid" organizations. You know, the folks who showed up at all those work-week, midday Obama rallies who happened to be in matching T-shirts.

When a company like Volkswagen runs afoul of myriad regulations and laws (never mind that no one noticed for years), the DOJ swoops in and shakes the company down for money — some of it sent to pet Democrat causes.

As expected, the CEO of Volkswagen capitulates. He says this is the most humiliating moment in his company's history. Keep in mind, Volkswagen was founded by Hitler. Hitler was too early with VW. Had he waited and teamed up with Samsung, he'd have been able to blow up Americans. Then VW reaches a $15 billion settlement. Democrat friends in the plaintiff lawyers' bar rake in billions, and the DOJ sends stacks of money to liberal allies and various like-minded activist groups. And VW owners, the supposed "victims" of increased horsepower and performance all those years? Well, they get a $25 gift card they can use on their next purchase of a VW.

Companies see this and, instead of opening another plant in Shakedownville, USA, they build a plant in Mexico. There they only have to bribe local cops. Jobs and revenues go overseas. Trump points this out and becomes president.

Government can do this because it creates all the myriad laws no one understands. In 2010 alone, 81,405 laws and regulations were created. I suggest you try to read them. If it gets boring, stick with it; it gets real interesting after page 79,205. And if you do not want to read all this, you can watch the movie "Atlas Shrugged."

Washington knows we will not read all of its rules or even notice. Most Americans care about and understand the infield fly rule better.

Per the National Review, "Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Justice Department regularly designed legal settlements in which well-heeled defendants were encouraged (read: forced) to donate money to third parties with no legal connection to the case being adjudicated."

So why did this work? The Government Accountability Office said that the practice was legal because the money was provided "voluntarily." Yeah, much like you "volunteer" your wallet and watch to a robber who has a gun on you.

This dubious practice under Obama needs to be examined. Loretta Lynch would not investigate Eric Holder or any Democrat. Yes, companies have constitutional rights to fight this practice but, according to the Obama doctrine, nothing says it has to be a fair fight. They know they are trying companies in the judicial system and the court of public opinion, and they settle.

The BP settlement was so big. Any time you put more oil on birds than Colonel Sanders ever did, you're vulnerable. I really would like to see who all got anything beyond lawyers, bureaucrats and environmental groups.

Other cases involved Uber settling on various charges, seemingly weekly. There have been so many settlements, Uber just delivers the money each time — as you would expect — in a white Kia, five minutes later than they say they'd be there. Ticketmaster settled a suit for $9 million, but only paid $3 million after its "servicing fee."

LinkedIn paid $7 million in settlements to employees. But the company knew it would never have to pay, because it sent notifications to "victims" on how to get paid in emails from LinkedIn, and then kept deleting them.

Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated op-ed humorist, author and TV/radio commentator, at Ron@RonaldHart.com or Twitter @RonaldHart.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com