Campaign Finance Task Force:

Problems and Disagreements Initially Hampered Justice's Investigation

GGD-00-101BR: Published: May 31, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the management and oversight of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Campaign Finance Task Force (CFTF), focusing on: (1) the strained working relationships and trust concerns within CFTF; (2) interagency disagreement over investigative approach; (3) interagency disagreements over the management and analysis of evidence; (4) management changes, staffing fluctuations, and oversight; (5) CFTF prosecutive results and costs; and (6) limitations in the Federal Election Campaign Act that may inhibit prosecutions.

GAO noted that: (1) following its creation, CFTF faced several management challenges and operational problems; (2) the working relationships between DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were strained and hampered by mutual concerns of trust, with DOJ attorneys and FBI investigators disagreeing over which investigative approach to take; (3) furthermore, efforts to manage and analyze documentation and evidence were hampered by the lack of: (a) an electronic data management system that could effectively process and manage the overwhelming amount of documents and other evidence collected; and (b) sufficient staff to input and analyze them; (4) to get the investigation on track, in the fall of 1997, DOJ and the FBI changed the Task Force's leadership, streamlined CFTF's oversight structure, and committed additional staff and information management resources; (5) the Task Force was removed from the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section's (PI) leadership and placed directly under a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in DOJ's Criminal Division; (6) PI, however, maintained its oversight of CFTF-related matters that had Independent Counsel statute implications; (7) up until its expiration in 1999, the statute and its applicability to CFTF's investigation had been a source of tension and disagreement between DOJ and the FBI and within DOJ; (8) as of December 31, 1999, CFTF had launched 121 investigations; (9) as of March 31, 2000, it had initiated 24 prosecutions and 15 individuals and 1 corporation had been convicted; and (10) from its inception through fiscal year 1999, DOJ and FBI estimated that they had spent $31.2 million on Task Force activities.

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