Press Release: Sessions Intervened to Help Major Donors Targeted In Ongoing DOJ Bribery Investigation

New Info Shows Sessions Took Acts as Senator Directly Connected to Public Corruption Probe

Related Content: Department of Justice (DOJ)
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October 25, 2017

As a Senator, Jeff Sessions took actions to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to make one of his biggest campaign contributors, coal giant Drummond, pay to clean up a polluted industrial site in Birmingham, Alabama. This dispute is at the center of an ongoing bribery investigation by the Justice Department, which Sessions now leads. These actions are previously unreported and were unearthed by a joint Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and Mother Jones investigation. Drummond is Sessions’ third largest source of campaign funds during his time in Congress.

Last month, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama indicted a Drummond executive and two attorneys at its law firm for bribing an Alabama state official to oppose these same EPA actions at the site. The firm, Balch & Bingham, is Sessions’ second largest source of campaign funds during his Senate career, and numerous Sessions staffers have gone to work for the firm. That official, former state Rep. Oliver Robinson, a Democrat, has pleaded guilty to taking bribes.

The U.S. Attorney’s investigation is ultimately under the supervision of Attorney General Sessions.

According to a Balch newsletter dated December 2015, Sessions met directly with Balch staff and received talking points from Drummond’s attorneys and lobbyists which were echoed in a February 2016 letter he sent to the EPA with two other members of Congress. This was done despite widespread health concerns experienced by Sessions’ constituents in the impoverished, largely African-American neighborhoods adjacent to the site.

To date, there is no evidence that Sessions has recused himself from the ongoing public corruption investigation under his supervision that involves some of his biggest political benefactors and where he has a documented track record of involvement favoring those benefactors involved in the alleged bribery scheme.

Former EPA staffers who spoke with Mother Jones and POGO said the political opposition to the EPA’s actions at the Birmingham industrial site was intense and unusual.

POGO previously reported on Sessions’ ties to players in the case and POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian has called on Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation.

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Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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