Photo credit: Thomas R Machnitzki (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Thomas R Machnitzki (CC-By-SA 3.0)

On Monday the Franklin County Republican Central Committee unanimously approved a motion to adopt the following as a statement of principle based on recent news of private citizens having their property seized by authorities without warrant.  The statement was introduced by Franklin County Republican Central Committee co-chair, Tom Crane of Dows, IA.

ENDING FORFEITURE

Civil forfeiture has treated many ordinary Americans worse than criminals.  Since 2001, civil forfeiture has resulted in more than 61,000 cash seizures, totaling $2.5 billion, through “highway interdictions” alone; all without any search warrants or indictments.

According to the Des Moines Register (4/5/15), “Iowa law enforcement agencies collected nearly $43 million from at least 5,907 forfeitures since 2009.”  Continuing, “Forfeiture rules in Iowa say law enforcement must show a substantial connection between the property and criminal conduct.  Criminal charges, indictments, or arrests are not necessary before police can seize property for forfeiture.  Proof that the seized property is tied to a particular crime, or illegal transaction is not necessary.”  Among counties most active in seizing property and cash, no record could be found of an arrest or criminal charge, yet the cash or property was kept by the enforcement agency.  Owners wanting to retrieve their property face costly court costs.

Near Spirit Lake, Carole Hinders owns and operates Mrs. Lady’s Mexican Food, employed about 15 people, and only accepted cash.  The cash-only business made deposits several times per week in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid an IRS requirement that deposits of more than $10,000 must be reported.  Deposits less than $10,000 are often used by drug dealers to funnel money without detection.  The IRS seized more than $33,000 from Carole’s bank account, even though she had done nothing wrong.  With the help of the Institute For Justice, the IRS dropped her case and returned her money.

Two former heads of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Forfeiture Office called civil forfeiture a “complete corruption”, and advocated the program’s elimination.  We applaud the efforts of U.S. Senator, Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Iowa State Senator Joe Bolckom (D-Iowa City) to reform forfeiture laws.  Grassley has been pressing for Federal reforms as the U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman, and Bolkcom has offered SF 467 in this year’s legislature.

The Central Committee of the Franklin County Republicans supports any and all efforts to change outrageous forfeiture policies pursued by some law enforcement agencies, and the Federal government, that threaten the liberty and property rights of Americans.  A central source for more information can be found at www.endforfeiture.com.

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