By John CassidyCNNMoneyThe Justice Department has taken $1.2 million from the political action committees of a dozen of its former employees who donated to the Republican Party, according to newly released documents obtained by CNNMoney.
The documents, released under a Freedom of Information Act request, show that a group of former Justice Department attorneys who worked for the department have also given $1,300 each to groups that backed Republican candidates and candidates for the U.S. Senate.
“This is not about partisanship,” said David M. Goldstein, a law professor at George Washington University.
“This is about the department getting out of the way.”
“There are very few federal employees who would want to be seen giving money to a political party,” Goldstein added.
The donations are not the first time the Justice Dept. has given to groups connected to the Kochs.
In 2013, the department awarded $1 million in grants to the Americans for Prosperity political action group.
The DOJ, which was created in 1994, has been a central player in the Koch’s anti-government, anti-regulation agenda.
In 2015, the Justice department approved an agreement that would allow the Koch Industries to buy land in Virginia and other states in exchange for a commitment to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory powers.
In January 2016, the Department of Justice announced it would allow Koch Industries lobbyists to spend up to $10,000 on political ads and activities for up to four years.
The new documents show that the Justice Departments spending on the political activity of former employees, while not new, is significant.
The agency had a total of $16.3 million in grant and loan funds from 2004 through 2015.
The latest batch of documents show the Justice agency has given more than $2.6 million to groups supporting Republican candidates for Congress, as well as $1 billion to Republican groups that oppose Democrats and Democrats’ policies.
“The Justice department is a major player in political campaigns, and we’re grateful for the work they do in that regard,” Goldstein said.
“But we also have a responsibility to make sure the government isn’t funding partisan activity.”
In the past year, the IRS has been embroiled in a political scandal involving a former official, Lois Lerner, who was charged with illegally targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
The IRS, which is under fire for targeting conservative organizations and their political activities, was not immediately available for comment on the DOJ documents.