Sunday, September 7, 2014

Asset Forfeiture - Connecting the Dots to ALEC

Four things hit my attention today that reminded me of more ALEC state nastiness that most people wouldn’t be aware of.

Like most times when pulling this together, I will rely on the actual words of ALEC, rather than summarizing them for the reader.  I do this because I want you to see the actual ALEC’s nastiness and not me just reinterpreting on what could be ALEC nastiness.

This entry really ended up morphing into two topics.
   The EVIL of ALEC at the state and federal level.
   And subsequently
   The new EVIL of ALEC at the local – municipal – level.

A recent article that was precipitated by the recent incidents in Ferguson Missouri

Which made me think of this - - -
an old petition:
End policing for profit in Minnesota

In Minnesota every year, law enforcement agents seize millions of dollars from people during traffic stops, simply by asserting that the money is connected to some illegal drug activity. Frequently officers don’t have a warrant and never get a conviction of criminal charges.

Innocent Minnesotans should not lose their property through civil forfeiture.

Asset seizures often disproportionately impact those who can afford it least—low-income African-American or Latino people whom the police decide look suspicious and for whom the challenge of trying to get property back is often prohibitively expensive.

ACT NOW: End policing for profit in Minnesota.

Which made me think of this - - -
(my emphasis)
the most comprehensive national study to examine the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture and the first study to grade the civil forfeiture laws of all 50 states and the federal government.

However, in most places, owners bear the burden of establishing their innocence. In other words, with civil forfeiture, property owners are effectively guilty until proven innocent.

In 2008, for the first time in history, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF) held more than $1 billion in net assets—

State data reveal that state and local law enforcement also use forfeiture extensively: From 2001 to 2002, currency forfeitures alone in just nine states totaled more than $70 million.
Imagine being pulled over and a law enforcement officer decides to take your car, cash or other personal property. The officer claims that he has probable cause to believe not necessarily that you are guilty of any illegal conduct but that your property was used to facilitate illegal activity. Perhaps the officer thinks you are carrying a larger-than-normal amount of cash or that your travel pattern is “suspicious.”

Once your property is taken, the government will—perhaps—send you a notice letting you know that the burden is on you to try to get your property back. If you do not respond within the right time frame and in the proper manner, law enforcement automatically gets to keep your seized property. 
In 1984, Congress amended portions of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Prevention Act of 1970 to create the Assets Forfeiture Fund, into the most troubling aspect of modern civil forfeiture laws is the profit incentive at their core.

After the 1984 amendments, federal agencies were able to retain and spend forfeiture proceeds—subject only to very loose restrictions—giving them a direct financial stake in generating forfeiture funds.

1984 Ronald Regan was the President of the United States.
1984 US Attorney General was William French Smith

From the 1984 ALEC Annual Meeting program:
and (my emphasis)
Though President Reagan's schedule makes it impossible for him to be with you, I want you to know that he personally salutes your achievements and completely shares in the spirit of your celebration.
Faith Ryan Whittlesey, Assistant to the President for Public Liaison

While I will be unable to attend the Eleventh Annual Meeting personally, I want to again express to you and your fellow ALEC legislators my appreciation for your continued interest in judicial reform issues. While President Reagan has taken the initiative in proposing criminal justice reforms at the Federal level, many ALEC legislators have been in the forefront of enacting these same reforms at the state level. Your seminars and publications on these issues have been an excellent reference for many. Best wishes for a successful convention.
William French Smith, Attorney General

At that same annual meeting you have this –
12:30-pm Lunch
Speaker: J. Kenneth Cribb, Jr, Assistant Counselor to the President 
"The Reagan Administration and Criminal justice"
Which brought me to this 
– from two years earlier

ALEC State Factor newsletter distributed to all their members- including Congressional Alumni and Federal Government agency employees who were sympathetic to ALEC governance preferences:
    second part of a three-part study series 
One very ingenious method of raising revenue is to enact a "forfeiture of assets" amendment to state criminal justice statutes. Simply stated, forfeiture is a proven method for law enforcement agents to confiscate and sell at auction the goods and commodities traceable to a criminal activity. The genius of a forfeiture amendment is that it does not directly involve an alleged offender; law enforcement officers do not have to prove that a person engaged in a criminal activity. Instead, forfeiture simply requires authorities to prove "more likely than not" (not "beyond a reasonable doubt") that a good or commodity was acquired because of a criminal activity. The key to that distinction is writing the forfeiture statute as part of civil law rather than criminal law. Authorities must still demonstrate "probable cause," but the burden of proof (mentioned above) is somewhat lighter.

Similiarly, [sic] Arizona and Florida officials were able to raise a combined $175 million after eighteen months' enforcement of state pornography-related forfeiture laws.
The forfeiture [sic] statute allows authorities to confiscate and sell boats, cars, equipment, bank accounts, houses, and any other item

Collectively, a mass confiscation of all these items can be worth billions of dollars. …for resale purposes;   Most of the items can be sold for widespread purposes.
How do we know if this would have moved to the state level without ALEC?
We don’t.
But - being that Florida and Arizona were involved initially - it's a pretty good guess. Historically, these states have brought lots of nastiness to ALEC to pass around the country.
But with the hidden, secret influence ALEC has held over state legislature for the past 40 years – it is fair to believe that the state enactment of forfeiture laws can be directly tied to ALEC.

Seizure – without process on probable cause

Chicago Annual meeting, Criminal Justice Task Force meeting
The Cato Institute's noted constitutional scholar, Roger Pilon, will be discussing the Constitutional merits of ALEC's asset forfeiture legislation.
Constitutional merits of ALEC's asset forfeiture legislation - WTH?

Enactment of the  
Comprehensive Asset Forfeiture Act - part deux– which was “Reforming ALEC’s existing model bill” 
Adopted by ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force at the States and Nation Policy Summit December 9, 1999.  Approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors January, 2000.

2011 Annual Meeting in NOLA – Public Safety and Elections TaskForce meeting
(my emphasis)
    ALEC has passed policy on civil asset forfeiture and will consider a motion 
    to repeal the current model and replace it with an extended version.
“Asset Forfeiture Process and Private Property Protection Act”
Mr. Lee McGrath, Institute for Justice
To replace “ALEC Comprehensive Asset Forfeiture Act” (2000) 
Importantly, this model does not change the authority of law enforcement to seize property suspected of being associated with crime or limit in any way prosecutors’ ability to charge and prosecute suspected criminals. Moreover, it ensures that those individuals proven guilty of a crime do not keep the fruits of their crime. In doing so, it strikes the right balance between the individual property rights and public safety. 
Later in 2011
November  - Public Safety and Elections Task Force Agenda and minutes
The Subcommittee will consider policies and hold an advisory vote on civil asset forfeiture and transparency in criminal law.
Motion to repeal existing “Comprehensive Asset Forfeiture Act”; failed the public sector; Motion Failed.  Motion to table the “Asset Forfeiture and Private Property Protection Act”; passed the public sector; passed the private sector; Bill Tabled.

The same guy that introduced the repeal of the
Comprehensive Asset Forfeiture Act”;
which failed the public sector; Motion Failed. 
In 2011

Wrote this to ALEC members in the:
2012 Inside ALEC | February
Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on property rights in America today. With civil forfeiture— unlike criminal forfeiture—law enforcement in most states can take your property without even so much as charging you with a crime, let alone convicting you of one.

ALEC adopted new model forfeiture policy in January.
ALEC’s Asset Forfeiture Process and Private Property Protection
Act does the following three important things:
1. It ends civil forfeiture and replaces it with criminal forfeiture;
  (under civil forfeiture, owners need not be convicted of any crime
  to lose homes, cars, businesses, cash or other property.)
2. It requires all forfeiture proceeds to be deposited in the state
treasury and does not allow them to supplement the budgets
of local law enforcement; and
3. It shifts the burden to the state to prove that someone whose
property has been seized and claims to be an innocent owner
did not have actual knowledge of the crime committed by
someone else with their property.
ALEC’s model policy allows law enforcement to hold seized property for investigatory reasons

Proceeds to states from forfeiture now exceed $500 million per year. In only eight states are the proceeds from forfeitures under state law deposited in the state’s general treasury. In the other 42 states, local law enforcement gets at least half of the proceeds including 26 states where 100 percent of the proceeds supplement the budgets of the law enforcement agencies

The potential for abuse is rooted in this potential to make money. 
As documented in legal cases found in the past and recent press (for reasons other than the topic of this entry) – potential of abuse – for monetary gain - can extend to state legislative members of the American Legislative Exchange.

Which made me think of this - - - 
ALEC's Hatred of Municipal Money

As noted above in the 2012 article, the ALEC adopted new model forfeiture policy included:
     “to be deposited in the state treasury
     does not allow them to supplement the budgets
     of local law enforcement”
Think about that!
ALEC hates local control.
So in ALEC states where this new version of the forfeiture policy passes
they will basically be telling municipalities:
Turn over what you seize to the ALEC state legislature.

     It’s the money to the cities
     It’s the ordinances
     It the fines that they collect that they get to keep and
     It’s all about that

Keeping money out of local treasuries, regardless of how it is obtained – is a goal of ALEC.

Which brings us to this - - -

ALEC hates local control 
they are actively seeking 
and finding 
city and county employees who are willing help them 
destroy local government.


So - - 
ALEC EVIL move throughout the system

How does that movement work?
From Federal law
Possibly to state law – pushed by ALEC state legislative members
And now
To local laws – which will be pushed by municipal ALEC members 

ALEC is one nasty, evil organization.
ALEC hates the control of the Federal government.
ALEC hates control at the local level.
They only want evil, fascist ALEC state legislative members to have control.

Its why they refer to STATES rights
It's why they are concerned with STATE sovereignty.


  1. Brilliant commentary. Have shared. Thank you.

  2. Hot linked at "the top of the scroll"