Democratic House Judiciary Committee members are not completely satisfied with the Department of Justice’s release of a list of 85 deferred prosecution agreements (dpas).
Two of the committee’s members — Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Linda Sanchez (D-,Calif.) — said that the information was incomplete and that they would consider legislation to set stricter guidelines on how corporate monitors are selected.
The brouhaha over dpas started right here in New Jersey, after it was revealed that U.S. Attorney Chris Christie awarded a lucrative federal monitoring contract to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who used to be his boss. That contract was worth anywhere from $28 to $52 million.
In March, Ashcroft gave combative testimony on the subject at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, which is chaired by Sanchez. The hearing was also attended by New Jersey Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone, who do not sit on the committee but pushed the issue.
The information on dpas was originally requested in January, and Conyers said that the Justice Department had left out at least 12 publicly available agreements out of the list, “which leaves us to wonder whether there are many more private agreements that we have not yet seen.”
Sanchez, for her part, said the DOJ’s delay and incomplete disclosure showed a need for legislation to “establish clear guidelines and transparency.”
Pallone is currently authoring his own legislation on deferred prosecution agreements.
Pascrell said that he will work play an integral role in writing another piece of comprehensive legislation with committee members.
“I have always felt it necessary for Congress to oversee the little-known deferred prosecution process and will continue working with the House Judiciary Committee to craft comprehensive legislation that will finally bring some accountability to this issue,” he said.
Yesterday, the Web site Law.com reported that the Department of Justice had changed internal guidelines on certain aspects of dpas, stemming from Christie’s agreement with pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb to endow a seat at Seton Hall Law School, his alma mater.