Mar 08 2017

Fischer, Gardner Continue Push for Transparency of Judgment Fund

Reintroduce legislation that would allow taxpayers to see how their tax dollars are spent on litigation expenses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) today reintroduced the Judgment Fund Transparency Act. The bill calls for an increase in transparency and oversight of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund. It would provide Members of Congress and hardworking Americans with the ability to see exactly how taxpayer dollars are being spent out of this fund. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are cosponsors of the bill.

The Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund contains taxpayer money that is used by federal government to cover its own liability. The bill we are reintroducing today builds on our past efforts to increase transparency of this fund and promote greater government accountability. Congress has a responsibility to conduct oversight and ensure our citizens’ hard-earned dollars are used responsibly,” said Fischer.

“The Federal Government pays out billions of dollars under the Judgment Fund with little information made available to the public, and some bad actors continually sue the government and abuse the Fund for their own gain. This legislation aims to change that behavior by promoting transparency in the Judgment Fund and providing the American taxpayers with more accountability. I’m proud to work with Senator Fischer on this important effort and thank Chairman Grassley for his support,”
said Gardner.

The Judgment Fund is a little-known account used to pay certain court judgments and settlements against the federal government. Each year, billions of dollars are disbursed from it, yet the fund does not fall under the annual appropriations process. Because of this, the Treasury Department has no binding reporting requirements, and these funds are paid out with scant scrutiny. For example, the Obama administration used the Judgment Fund to deliver $1.3 billion to Iran’s Central Bank in 2016. Ransom for American hostages was coordinated with this payment.

Fischer and Gardner’s Judgment Fund Transparency Act would require a public accounting of taxpayer funds distributed to parties that bring successful claims against the federal government. Specifically, it would require the Treasury Department to publicly post the claimant, counsel, agency, fact summary, and payment amount for each claim from the Judgment Fund.

The senators also introduced this legislation last Congress. This version of the bill passed the Senate in April 2016 as part of the Energy Policy Modernization Act.

Click here to read the text of the Judgment Fund Transparency Act.

Click here to read Senator Fischer and Senator Gardner’s op-ed in Time.