By Mark Vargas, Editor-in-Chief, Illinois Review
Since 1997, Congress has paid more than $17 million in settlements — or “hush money” payments, according to the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights.
So who’s paying the bill?
You guessed it!
The American taxpayer.
That’s right, daily hard working Americans, who often live paycheck to paycheck, are funding a congressional slush fund account, one handing out “hush money” payments like Halloween candy to protect influential Members of Congress.
Individual offices on Capitol Hill do not pay the hush money settlements, but rather, it comes out of a special fund within the Treasury Department that was created in 1995 under the Congressional Accountability Act.
In 2017, then-U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., introduced HR 4494 – the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act that “prohibits the use of public funds to pay awards and settlements.”
Unfortunately, the legislation was “dead on arrival,” and it was never assigned to a committee for debate, despite 103 bipartisan cosponsors.
Last Thursday, former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York City in a “hush money” probe — making him the first president to face criminal charges in U.S. history.
It’s not uncommon for celebrities and wealthy business people to make monetary payments to an individual as a way to settle a private or internal matter.
That’s not illegal.
But what crosses the line is using taxpayer dollars as “hush money” payments to settle private matters in order to protect the institution of the U.S. Congress and its members.
Using private funds from a business is one thing – but using taxpayer money for “hush money” payments is wrong, and perhaps even illegal.
With felony assaults and car thefts on the rise — and crime rising on Gotham’s buses and subways, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg should be spending his time and office resources protecting New York City citizens, instead of weaponizing his department to pursue political opponents.
This strategy will no doubt backfire on Bragg and his fellow Democrats — dragging the United States of America into Third World politics that are common in countries like Bolivia, Venezuela and Communist China.
In those countries they prosecute and jail their political enemies.
Published Originally in Newsmax on April 4, 2023.