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Paul, Walberg Applaud Grassley for Highlighting Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse

April 15, 2015
Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), and the lead bipartisan cosponsors of the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act) sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to thank them for holding today's hearing on civil asset forfeiture abuse and ask the Committee to embrace the principles contained in the FAIR Act.

On January 27, Paul and Walberg introduced the FAIR Act in the House and Senate, the most comprehensive forfeiture reform bill introduced since the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000. Among its many provisions, the FAIR Act would raise the level of proof necessary for the government to seize property, reform the IRS structuring statute to protect innocent business owners, ensure due process and property rights are protected, and increase transparency and Congressional oversight.  

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Reps. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Scott Garrett (R-NJ). The text reads as follows:

Chairman Grassley & Ranking Member Leahy,

Thank you for holding a hearing on April 15, 2015 regarding the abuses occurring in the federal civil asset forfeiture system.  As you know, current federal forfeiture laws create a financial incentive to pursue profit over the fair administration of justice, facilitate the circumvention of state laws intended to protect citizens from abuse, encourage the violation of due process and property rights of Americans, and disproportionately impact people of color and those with modest means.  For these reasons, we truly appreciate the Committee taking the torch to offer additional light on a legal process that infringes on the property rights and due process of Americans.  

We introduced the Fifth Amendment Restoration Act of 2015 (FAIR Act) to reform our civil forfeiture laws. We have been heartened to see the positive reaction within the public, in the press and now in Congress to reforming these laws.  While the Committee continues its efforts to build upon the bipartisan support in Congress, we ask that you pursue federal forfeiture reforms that embrace the principles contained in the FAIR Act such as: eliminating the profit incentive by shifting forfeiture funds to the General Treasury Fund, respecting the principles of federalism by eliminating equitable sharing, ensuring due process and property rights are protected, and increasing transparency and Congressional oversight.  

Although there are legitimate uses of criminal forfeiture, the use of civil forfeiture to go after property without charging property owners with crimes should not be accepted.  We appreciate your consideration of this matter and hope to work with the Committee in the future to ensure constitutionally guaranteed due process and property rights are protected.

 
Click here to download a PDF of the letter. 

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