Justice Department

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updated: King County mishandled federal block grant spending

Updated, a link to the wrong report was posted previously.

King County mishandled at least hundreds of thousands in federal money from a justice department block grant program, according to a recent report from the Washington State Auditor.

The county, Washington state's most populous, misspent close to $400,000 of federal money and failed to meet numerous program requirements -- inlcuding that the money be used for new spending rather than be used to offset budget cuts:

The county disputed some conclusions but agreed that the money had been misspent, but said it would seek retroactive approval  from the Department of Justice.

Clippers owner pays $2.7 million to settle bias lawsuit

L.A. Clippers owner Donald  Sterling will pay $2.7 million to settle claims that he shut out African Americans, Hispanics and families with children from renting apartments on his vast network of Los Angeles area properties.

Had Sterling not struck the deal, The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press report the trial would have aired expert testimony showing Sterlings' Koreatown rental practices to be racist.

If approved by a federal judge, the deal would amount to the largest apartment housing bias settlement brokered by the Justice Department.

Feds get local enforcement to ID immigrants

The federal government is rapidly expanding its program to make local and state enforcement agencies its eyes, ears and cuffs on illegal immigrants.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 67 local and state law enforcement agencies are going to continue enforcing immigration law but be subject to more oversight.

Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio  -- under investigation by the Department of Justice for possible civil rights violations -- can't sweep his county for illegal immigrants.

Whether in California, Las Vegas or Arizona, local and state agents across the country have spotted more than 130,000 illegal immigrants.  About 24,000 illegal immigrants identified have been deported this year.

Obama plays twister with gay marriage stance

With a waving campaign hand, President Barack Obama beckoned to gay voters.  He promised to undo a Clinton-era law blinding the federal government to gay marriage and allowing states to ignore same-sex marriages sanctioned by their peer governments.

But with a presidential gesture, Obama has supported his Justice Department's efforts to throw out a gay couple's lawsuit challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

His administration's lawyers argue that the Constitution sanctions preventing gay couples from securing the benefits usually accorded to married people, such as Social Security spousal benefits and filing joint taxes.  Doing otherwise wouldn't be fair to taxpayers of the 30 states that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages, they say.

The San Francisco Chronicle published the article by Devlin Barrett of the Associated Press which quotes Obama's statement and the papers his administration filed in a California court.

In them, Obama walks a tightrope between defending the law and offending his gay constituency.

The president said his administration's stance in a California court case is not about defending traditional marriage, but is instead about defending traditional legal practice.

Department lawyers are defending the law "as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged," Obama said in a statement.

"The United States does not believe that DOMA is rationally related to any legitimate government interests in procreation and child-rearing and is therefore not relying upon any such interests to defend DOMA's constitutionality," lawyers argued in the filing.