Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is questioning the arrangements surrounding President Obama’s drive to shorten the sentences of some drug convicts, Politico reports. Grassley asked Attorney General Eric Holder for information about the relationship between the Justice Department and “Clemency Project 2014″—a consortium of outside groups formed in response to calls from administration officials to help federal prisoners prepare applications for the clemency effort.
“I am unaware of any time in history in which the Department of Justice has delegated any of these core attributes of presidential power to private parties beholden to no one, and who have their own agendas that may not coincide with the President’s,” Grassley wrote. Politico reported earlier that the sentencing effort is struggling with more than 25,000 requests from inmates and that lawyers involved in the project have suggested applicants who route their clemency petitions through the project will stand a better or faster chance of favorable action than those who submit applications independently. The project, which is run by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Bar Association, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is screening applications and weeding out those it considers unmeritorious under DOJ criteria.