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Walberg, Paul Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Curb Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse

March 16, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S Representative Tim Walberg (MI-07) and U.S. Senator Rand Paul have reintroduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act (FAIR Act), bipartisan legislation to curb civil asset forfeiture abuse and protect the American people's due process and private property rights. H.R. 1555 will raise the level of proof necessary for the government to seize property, reform the IRS structuring statute to protect innocent business owners, increase transparency and Congressional oversight, and many other important reforms.

"Over the past few years, we've seen a wave of stories where the government unjustly seized property from innocent Americans without charging them with a crime," said Rep. Walberg. "These types of abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws should be a clarion call to reform the system and uphold the constitutional rights of the American people. That's why I'm committed to championing the FAIR Act, which includes comprehensive and bipartisan reforms to limit the scope of the government's forfeiture powers and protect individual rights."

"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," said Dr. Paul. "The FAIR Act will protect Americans' Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process. It guards against abuse while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime."  

"Every year the government takes in billions of dollars in property from those suspected of being criminals – and every year, much of that property turns out to belong to innocent people who have little recourse once their belongings have been seized. This bill would help reform asset forfeiture practices and ensure that every American receives their 4th amendment right to due process. I'm proud to cosponsor it," said Rep. Keith Ellison.

Rep. Walberg first introduced legislative reforms in July 2014 in direct response to a series of incidents involving innocent property owners having their property seized by federal officials, including a longtime grocer in Michigan, Terry Dehko. In January 2015, he joined with Dr. Paul to introduce the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act.

Bipartisan original co-sponsors of the FAIR Act in the House include Reps. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Tom McClintock (R-CA). The FAIR Act is supported by a diverse group of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, Institute for Justice, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and National Federation of Independent Business.

Click here for the text of H.R. 1555 and S. 642.