Activists have grown rich by suing the government and reaping billions of taxpayers’ dollars – and all in secret, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The U.S. Department of Interior, however, has issued an order to curb this “abuse of basic, democratic processes and to open backroom deals to public scrutiny,” according to an AFBF news release. The organization notes that Interior alone paid out more than $4.4 billion in monetary awards under terms of 460 settlement agreements and consent decrees between 2012, and 2017. In other words, Interior paid out an average of more than $800 million a year while keeping key aspects of litigation secret. AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen says the action to change policy “is a solid first step to fixing the problem. ”Among other things, the department has committed to establishing a publicly accessible webpage that details ongoing litigation, and post a searchable list and text of final judicial and administrative consent decrees.
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