Heritage Research Leads Justice Department to End Third-Party Settlements


Heritage Research Leads Justice Department to End Third-Party Settlements

June 16th, 2017

Department of Justice entrance in Washington D.C. Photo: iStock

The Justice Department announced last week that it would no longer allow the practice of third-party settlements—a reform championed by Paul Larkin, a senior legal research fellow in Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

In announcing the policy change, Attorney General Jeff Sessions noted: “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.”

A Justice Department backgrounder cited research supporting this decision. Topping their list of sources was an op-ed written by Larkin way back in 2015.

Titled “Justice Department Giving Away the Public’s Money to Third-Party Interests,” the commentary urged on Congress to put an end to the practice.

“The public’s money belongs to the public, not to whatever recipients an attorney general may decide to favor, and Congress is responsible for saying how it can be spent,” Larkin wrote. That same month, he also testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the harmful impacts of third-party settlement in 2015.

The Justice Department is not the only organization to embrace Larkin’s research on these pernicious settlements. The Daily Caller and Breitbart have also cited his work to explain the harmful nature of the practice.

“Paul Larkin is a thought leader on many issues,” said John Malcolm, vice president for Heritage’s Institute for Constitutional Government

“The practice of government attorneys entering into settlement agreements that include payments to non-victim, non-governmental third parties is troublesome to say the least.

Paul’s persuasive and scholarly writings and testimony objecting to this practice on policy and constitutional grounds have borne fruit. I am pleased that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally ended this practice. The taxpayers should be grateful too.”