Patterico's Pontifications

1/15/2019

Freedom Caucus Chairman: Let’s Tap Asset Forfeiture Funds To Get That Wall Going

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:02 am



[guest post by Dana]

All states and the federal government allow law enforcement to seize/forfeit cash, property…they believe are associated with illegal activity… Criminal asset forfeiture proceedings occur against a person after being convicted of an underlying criminal offense. Civil asset forfeiture, once property has been seized, prosecutors can file civil actions in order to forfeit, or keep, the property of someone suspected of being involved in an illegal activity. The action is against the property—not the person—and can be seized even if the person is not charged or convicted of a crime.)

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He’s not alone:

Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) urged Trump to make the emergency declaration in an op-ed in the Daily Caller, while Rep. Mark Green, a freshman and newly minted Freedom Caucus member, is also girding for action on securing the border.

“I support whatever means it takes to get it done,” the Tennessee Republican told Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs. “We have a crisis at the southern border. It’s time to act.”

Robby Soave reminds us of what the Freedom Caucus claims to be about:

According to its bio, the House Freedom Caucus purportedly supports “open, accountable & limited government, the Constitution & the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety & prosperity of all Americans.” One might expect more of its members to recongize that Trump’s proposed course of action violates many of these principles and weakens them in the long term.

Interestingly, on Friday, Meadows expressed concerns about the obvious resulting slippery slope if an agreement couldn’t be reached and the president declared a national emergency, but apparently he was able to overcome any concerns:

“I do see the potential for national emergencies being used for every single thing that we face in the future where we can’t reach an agreement. That’s the slippery slope that I’m concerned about,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a top Trump ally, told POLITICO on Thursday. “The administration is well aware of the ability to use national emergency [powers] and the reluctance to do so from House members.”

“And yet, I think the president would find broad support if it’s determined that ultimately he has to do it,” Meadows added.

Summing up the problem:

“Whatever it takes to get it done” and “time to act” are not phrases associated with constrained government and the protection of individual liberty. But with the noted exception of the uncommonly principled Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.)—who is also a member of the much more libertarian (and much smaller) Liberty Caucus—this group of legislators ostensibly dedicated to preserving freedom seem perfectly willing to jettison their priorities if they stand in the way of Donald Trump and his wall.

It’s all pretty funny when one considers that just a few short years ago, Republicans saw the need to reform civil asset forfeiture and came together to push back against Jeff Sessions and “limit the Justice Department from using funds towards facilitating asset forfeiture”.

Limited government, individual liberty, natural rights, and fiscal accountability were once the backbone of the right. But when a wall is at stake, President Trump’s wall, some Republicans are willing to make that slippery-slope exception. It’s become a troubling reality, this increasing lack of daylight between Democrats and Republicans when faced with something they want done now.

Note: As to whether federal forfeiture money can be put toward the wall, the Washington Post says no:

Under federal law, money from the DOJ’s forfeiture fund can only be put toward certain specified uses, including maintaining the fund itself, paying overtime and salaries of law enforcement officers, paying informants and upgrading law enforcement vehicles. Similar rules govern the money in the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund. Absent congressional action, authorities wishing to appropriate money for a wall from either fund would have to justify that use under existing statutes, and it’s unclear whether they’d be able to. ABC News’s Tara Palmieri has reported that Justice Department officials are “fiercely against” using DOJ forfeiture money in this fashion.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana


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