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Paul, Walberg Introduce Legislation to Restrain Government Forfeiture Powers

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Washington, January 27, 2015 | comments

Washington, D.C.
– Senator Rand Paul and Representative Tim Walberg reintroduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act) today, legislation to protect the rights of property owners and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in civil forfeiture proceedings. The FAIR Act represents the most comprehensive forfeiture reform bill introduced since the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000. Click here and here for video from today's press conference.

Under current law, agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice may take property suspected to be in connection with a crime without charging, let alone convicting, the property owner of a crime. 

“America was founded on the principles of due process and property rights,” Rep. Walberg said. “These principles must be defended, not undermined by a system that allows the government to seize an individual’s private property without filing criminal charges. At a time when trust between government and its citizens is quickly eroding, the FAIR Act intends to return the balance of power back to the American people and away from an overreaching federal government.” 

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime. The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime. I will continue to do all I can to protect the rights of Americans and ensure that their Fifth Amendment rights are no longer infringed upon,” Sen. Paul said.

In the 113th Congress, Walberg introduced legislation to curb civil asset forfeiture abuses in direct response to a wave of stories involving innocent property owners having their property seized by federal officials.  In Michigan, a longtime grocer, Terry Dehko, had his bank accounts seized by IRS because they suspected him of being a money launderer.  The charges were never filed, but Mr. Dehko had to prove that his money was not used in a criminal enterprise.

Paul and Walberg were joined at the press conference by Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ). The FAIR Act is supported by the ACLU, Institute for Justice, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Click here for the legislative text of H.R. 540 and S.255.

MORE BACKGROUND
June 2, 2014: Rep. Walberg engaged with Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah about civil asset forfeiture abuse during debate on the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations legislation. Watch the video here.

July 28, 2014: Rep. Walberg introduced H.R. 5212, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2014, to bolster due process and property rights protections for Americans against an abusive federal civil forfeiture scheme. 

July 29, 2014: Rep. Walberg joined Radley Balko of the Washington Post and Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice for a panel at the Heritage Foundation to discuss civil asset forfeiture reform. Watch the panel here

September 4, 2014: Rep. Walberg published an opinion editorial in the Washington Post detailing the abuse of civil forfeiture and how his legislation seeks to protect Americans against unconstitutional civil forfeitures. Read the editorial here.

September 28th, 2014: Rep. Walberg spoke on the House floor about fellow Michigander, Terry Dehko, whose property was unlawfully seized by the IRS.  Watch the video here.

Congressman Walberg serves on the House Education and the Workforce Committee as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. In addition, he serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. For more information on Walberg’s work in Congress visit walberg.house.gov.
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