by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Groups concealed by the government have raked in $25 million in legal fees from federal agencies through lawsuits under three environmental laws since 2009, a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis found.
The Department of Treasury’s Judgment Fund database tracks how much federal agencies have paid out for lawsuits and court settlements, but doesn’t track the names of the individuals or groups that are actually suing the government.
More than $49 million in taxpayer funds was paid to lawyers suing the Obama administration under three major environmental statutes, TheDCNF found. Environmental activists have gotten millions from taxpayers suing the government to expand federal regulation.
But further analysis revealed that more than half of those payments went to groups the federal government concealed.
Treasury isn’t keeping complete data on law firms, and activist groups getting taxpayer dollars has transparency advocates worried. The department also frequently redacts names of attorneys getting tax dollars under the Privacy Act, according to an attorney with the Judgement Fund.
“It’s no surprise the Treasury Department is hiding who gets the money in these transactions,” Adam Andrzejewski, Founder and CEO of transparency group OpenTheBooks.com, told TheDCNF. “Because these suits involve the federal government, taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are going and what agendas they’re advancing.”
The administration paid out more than $25 million to attorneys and firms that were either listed as “unnamed” or “redacted” from 2009 to 2015. Nearly $630,000 was paid out to groups where some of the plaintiff’s attorneys were listed but others were redacted.
The $49 million was paid out to groups under 512 so-called “citizen lawsuits” – lawsuits filed under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act, TheDCNF previously reported.