Jan. 5, 2017
Corporate Accountability Blunders Taint Sessions Record
As Alabama Attorney General, Trump’s Nominee to Lead the U.S. Justice Department Mishandled a Corporate Criminal Investigation and Sided With Corporate Interests
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-Ala.) failure to combat corporate crime and wrongdoing as a top law enforcement officer casts serious doubt on whether Trump’s attorney general nominee would be tough on corporate crime if confirmed, a new Public Citizen report shows.
Sessions’ history of racism and hostility to civil rights is well documented, but his record on prosecuting corporate crime has received far less scrutiny. The incidents documented in the Public Citizen report, “Jeff Sessions as Alabama Attorney General: 1995-1997,” reveal that:
- When campaigning for attorney general in 1994, Sessions reportedly received $20,000 from the vice chairman of Morrison’s Inc., a corporation he declined to prosecute when in his previous role as U.S. attorney. Morrison’s was a government contractor that had been violating its contract by diluting meat it provided for meals for senior citizens with vegetable protein. The U.S. attorney’s office later told federal officials that racketeering charges could have been brought against Morrison’s.
- In 1996, Sessions refused to join other states in suing Big Tobacco. His successor, William Pryor, also resisted, yet ultimately joined a multistate tobacco settlement. As a result of Alabama’s latecomer status, the state received only about half of the settlement amount it would have received had it joined from the outset.
- Sessions botched an alleged fraud case his office brought in 1995 against Tieco, an Alabama industrial equipment company. The judge handling the case found pervasive wrongdoing by the attorney general’s office and dismissed the charges due to the misconduct.
- In 1996, Sessions opposed 22 of his fellow state attorneys general and instead sided with the insurance industry, Exxon and the corporate lobby group National Association of Manufacturers in Adams v. Robertson, a U.S. Supreme Court case about consumer class actions.
“Jeff Sessions’ abysmal civil rights record is bad enough,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and author of the report. “But his deference to corporate power and apparent unwillingness in the past to take on corporate criminals is another reason the Senate should reject his nomination.”
Added Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “Incidents from Sessions’ time as Alabama attorney general cast doubt on how he will handle the U.S. attorney general’s responsibility to aggressively pursue and prosecute corporate criminals. If senators take seriously their responsibility to put the interests of their constituents ahead of corporations, they will vote against Sessions’ confirmation next week.”