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Washington, DC, May 14, 2019 – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) today released a new report, “Rigged Justice 2.0: Government of the Billionaires, by the Billionaires, and for the Billionaires.” The report, prepared by Rep. Jayapal and Senator Warren, is the second in a series on the failure of the federal government to hold corporate and white-collar criminals accountable, and highlights how enforcement has hit a 20-year low under the Trump administration.
From the report: “Our justice system’s soft touch with huge corporations and billionaires is not a new phenomenon. But under President Trump, it is far worse than it has ever been. The Trump administration has treated their billionaire buddies and corporate campaign contributors like the old friends they are: handing them the keys to government regulatory decisions, and neutering the federal government’s enforcement tools to address and prevent corporate crime.”
The 16-page report examines the failure to protect consumers, workers, and the environment since President Trump took office and finds that there has been:
- A rapid decline in the number of white collar crime enforcement actions pursued by the federal government, bringing enforcement activity to a 20-year low — down 33.5 percent from 2013, and down 41 percent from 1998;
- A decline in monetary penalties and enforcement actions across nearly every federal government agency, including drops in penalty amounts of more than 80% during the administration’s first 20 months at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Communications Commission;
- A failure to punish banks and financial firms that break the law, including a more than 50% decline in the number of cases brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission, and DOJ; and
- Massive declines in the number of federal government employees responsible for enforcing federal laws that protect the security of our financial markets, the safety of our workplaces, and the quality of our air and water.
The first report, released in January 2016, revealed that even with agencies under Democratic control, “accountability for corporate criminals was shockingly weak.” But this new analysis reveals a catastrophic decline in corporate accountability under President Trump, illustrating the impact of corporate malfeasance on the American public through a dozen case studies in which the government failed to hold companies and white collar criminals accountable for ripping off the American people, hurting workers, or damaging the environment.
Senator Warren has long advocated for greater accountability for corporate criminals. In March 2018, on the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Bear Stearns, which marked the beginning of the financial crisis, she introduced the Ending Too Big to Jail Act, a bill that would make it easier to bring criminal charges against bank executives whose organizations defraud consumers. In April 2019, she reintroduced that bill and introduced the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, legislation that would make executives of big corporations criminally liable if their companies commit crimes, harm large numbers of people through civil violations, or commit a new violation while under the supervision of the court or a regulator for a previous violation.
Read her op-ed in The Washington Post, explaining why corporate executives must face jail time for overseeing massive scams that harm the American people.