NATIONAL TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP DEMANDS FREEZE IN ANTITRUST DIVISION'S BUDGET | Citizens Against Government Waste

NATIONAL TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP DEMANDS FREEZE IN ANTITRUST DIVISION'S BUDGET

Press Release

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE   Contact:  Jim Campi or Aaron Taylor
September 28, 1999(202) 467-5300

 

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Urges Commerce Justice State Conferees to Freeze Justice Department's Antitrust Division Budget at Current Levels

(Washington, D.C.) – In a letter to members of the fiscal 2000 Commerce Justice State (CJS) Appropriations conference committee, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) urged conferees to freeze the budget for the Department of Justice's (DOJ) antitrust division at fiscal 1999 levels.  The antitrust division received $98 million in fiscal 1999.

"DOJ has been less than forthcoming about the activities of the antitrust division," remarked CCAGW President Thomas A. Schatz.  "Without full disclosure, how can Congress justify any increase in expenses for the antitrust division?"

Press reports indicate that the House version of the CJS bill (H. Rept 106-283) would increase the antitrust division budget by 5 percent.  The Senate version of the bill (S. Rept. 106-76) would increase the division's budget even further, by 12 percent.  These increases would cost taxpayers between $4.9 million and $11.8 million in the next year alone.

According to Schatz, the antitrust division has simply failed to make the case for such exorbitant increases.  Although the division purports to need additional money and lawyers to pursue various cases, it refuses to come clean on the amount being spent on pending litigation.  "The antitrust division has displayed nothing but arrogance and contempt in the face of reasonable requests for basic financial information," Schatz argued.

For nearly a year, CCAGW has tried to get the antitrust division to disclose the cost DOJ's lawsuit against the Microsoft Corporation.  CCAGW estimates the misguided litigation has cost taxpayers between $30 million and $60 million.  However, DOJ remains mute about the total costs of the suit.  "Since when can attorneys hide the cost of litigation from their clients, in this case the American taxpayers?" Schatz asks.

Schatz concluded his letter by urging conferees to think twice before giving the antitrust carte blanche to pursue litigation in practical secrecy.  "The taxpayers would be best served if the antitrust division's budget was frozen at current levels."

CCAGW is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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