Civil forfeiture has been a growing problem across agencies on the state and federal levels. The largest issue being the placement of burden onto the citizen to prove innocence to regain their assets instead of on the state having cause has gone largely unrestrained.
Congressman Doug Collins, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, detailed the near-demise of Andrew Clyde of Clyde’s Armory, a Georgian from the 9th district, in his latest constituent newsletter.
Fearing it could be their last chance, customers flocked to his store to purchase arms. Suddenly, Andrew was in possession of a lot of cash. His insurance policy meant he would have to deposit it in amounts drawing Interval Revenue Service scrutiny. More than scrutiny, as a matter of fact. The IRS seized Andrew’s bank accounts, almost destroying his business and the 25 jobs he provides. But the Justice Department never charged him with a crime. He hadn’t committed one — just fallen afoul of a law that Congress intended to prevent money laundering.
Collins also said,
The IRS seized his property without probable cause. The Justice Department never charged him with a crime, while prosecutors threatened his reputation. More small business owners have told the House the same thing.
Congressman Collins largely blames the Obama administration for the problems of Andrew Clyde -and he is correct – but the trampling of our rights through civil forfeiture crosses party lines. Often. From drug crime accusations to human trafficking, civil forfeiture practices are blind to partisanship at the expense of The People. Real reform and protections will only be implemented when we stop placing blame and actually address how our government is crippling citizens and businesses.
On the state level, legislators have attempted to reform civil forfeiture practices, many of which have been difficult and unsuccessful. And then, of course, we have the legislators trying to expand the scope of civil forfeiture.