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Tag Archives: Government Abuse


How Civil Asset Forfeiture Reduces Economic Mobility

By Julian Adorney • The Federalist

Income mobility in the United States has stagnated, a fact that hurts the poor most of all. If President Trump wishes to keep his promises to help low-income Americans escape poverty, he should instruct his administration to jettison, rather than expand, non-criminal asset forfeiture.

Non-criminal asset forfeiture lets government agents seize Americans’ assets (cash, but also cars and even houses) on the mere suspicion that they were involved in a crime. Asset forfeiture is intended to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains, but frequently enables police to take the property of Americans who remain innocent in the eyes of the law.

According to a Department of Justice report, they’ve seized $29 billion from 2007-2016 on the federal level. Twenty-three percent of this has been administrative asset forfeiture, meaning that the seizure was less than $500,000 and the victims were never convicted of—or often even charged with—a crime. Continue reading


Coalition Letter Opposing Suspect “Midnight Litigation” in Waning Days of Administration

Dear Vice President-Elect Pence:

It has come to our attention that a number of Departments and independent agencies are working furiously behind closed doors to bring significant, legally tenuous litigation against American business interests before January 20, 2017.  Doing so will saddle the Trump Administration with having to litigate cases based on job crushing liberal legal theories.  Such “midnight litigation,” particularly litigation that does not concern imminent threats to health or safety, must receive the strictest of scrutiny from the transition, and we urge the new Administration in the strongest possible terms not to treat such litigation with deference.

We have long been concerned about “midnight regulation” – regulations promulgated in the waning days of a lame duck administration.  Because of this concern, Congress enacted the Congressional Review Act, which provides Congress procedural tools to disapprove expeditiously these last ditch midnight regulations.  Congress, however, has no authority over litigation brought by the Executive Branch, and it will be incumbent upon the Trump Administration to decide whether to continue to pursue such cases.

President-elect Trump promised to “make American great again” and successfully argued that a rigged system has stymied growth, competitiveness and opportunity.  This is due in no small measure to the Obama Administration’s war on business, which was again made apparent only days ago with the President’s executive action to ban offshore oil drilling in areas of the Artic and Atlantic Oceans.  The mountains of regulations promulgated by the current Administration are a key reason economic growth has been dismally low.  Litigation is another form of executive action that can have similar devastating impacts on American jobs and competitiveness and should be reviewed in the same manner that the Transition is reviewing regulations.

Should the Obama Administration bring non-routine, last minute, legally unorthodox midnight litigation, your Administration should not hesitate to withdraw immediately from that litigation.  In such circumstances, the new Administration should not be constrained by notions of deference and should not support suspect legal theories that could have devastating economic effects for decades to come.

We appreciate the difficult work ahead of you and wish you the best as you continue to prepare to undo the damage of the last eight years.

Sincerely,

George Landrith
President
Frontiers of Freedom

Horace Cooper
Senior Fellow
Heartland Institute

Grover Norquist
President
Americans for Tax Reform

The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Chairman
Constitutional Congress, Inc.

Richard A. Viguerie
Chairman
ConservativeHQ.com

Morton Blackwell
Chairman
The Weyrich Lunch

Phil Kerpen
President
American Commitment

Jim Martin
President
60 Plus

Lew Uhler
President
National Tax Limitation Committee

Judson Phillips
Founder
Tea Party Patriots

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Seton Motely
President
Less Government

C. Preston Noell III
President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Scott Vanatter
President
The Last Best Hope on Earth Institute

Dee Hodges
President
Maryland Taxpayers Association

Brent Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity

Willes K. Lee
President
National Federation of Republican Assemblies

Mark Thomas
Founder
Freedom & Prosperity Caucus

John Cooper
President
Defending America Foundation

Susan Taylor
President
Strengthening America for All

William A. Estrada, Esq.,
Director of Federal Relations
Home School Legal Defense Association

Mat Staver, Esq.
Founder & Chairman
Liberty Counsel

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Nicholas Willis
President
Americans for Liberty & Security

Michael J. Bowen
CEO
Coalition for a Strong America

Clyde Wayne Crews
Vice President for Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Charles Sauer
President
Market Institute

Norm Singleton
President
Campaign for Liberty

 


Florida Governor Signs Bill Requiring Actual Criminal Charges Before Seizing Property

Important reform to reduce asset forfeiture abuse

by Scott Shackford     •     Reason.com

Some great news in asset forfeiture reform is coming out of Florida. S.B. 1044, approved by the legislature earlier in the month, was signed into law today by Gov. Rick Scott.

The big deal with this particular reform is that, in most cases, Florida police will actually have to arrest and charge a person with a crime before attempting to seize and keep their money and property under the state’s asset forfeiture laws. One of the major ways asset forfeiture gets abused is that it is frequently a “civil”, not criminal, process where police and prosecutors are able to take property without even charging somebody with a crime, let alone convicting them. This is how police are, for example, able to snatch cash from cars they’ve pulled over and claim they suspect the money was going to be used for drug trafficking without actually finding any drugs. Continue reading


California DOJ Intimidates Civilian Journalist in Home Raid

CBC Sacramento

big governmentAn anti-abortion activist who made undercover videos at Planned Parenthood clinics said in a social media posting that California Department of Justice agents raided his home Tuesday.

Agents seized all video footage from his apartment, along with his personal information, David Daleiden said in a Facebook post. Daleiden, the founder of a group called the Center for Medical Progress, said agents left behind documents that he contends implicate Planned Parenthood in illegal behavior related to the handling of fetal tissue.

Center for Medical Progress spokesman Peter Robbio confirmed the social media posting is authentic, but he declined further comment. He said Daleiden lives in Orange County. Continue reading


The IRS backs down: How your voice made a difference, America

By Jay Sekulow     •     FoxNews.com

Americans spoke out. And the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) listened.

A new regulation proposed by the IRS would have some nonprofit charities report the Social Security numbers of donors giving at least $250 in one year. The regulation would permit, but not require, charitable organizations to file a new, separate information return (in addition to the Form 990) to substantiate covered contributions. The new informational return would require the charity to collect an individual donor’s name, address, and Social Security number, and provide a copy to the donor.

I first sounded the alarm about this problematic issue last month. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we strongly opposed this regulation, filing comments with the IRS explaining why such a move would be damaging by undermining consumer and taxpayer protections, and likely result in reduced charitable giving.

Many others opposed the proposed regulation, too. Nearly 38,000 people filed comments online – the vast majority opposing the move. Continue reading


IRS Erases Hard Drive Despite Court Order

by Alexander Hendrie     •     Americans for Tax Reform

IRS AbuseThe IRS erased a hard drive belonging to a former top employee involved in the agency’s controversial, taxpayer-funded hiring of elite trial law firm Quinn Emanuel.

Although there was a court preservation order on all documents related to the IRS hiring of the outside firm, the hard drive was erased anyway. The order was borne of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Microsoft.

Even though the white shoe law firm has zero experience handling sensitive tax data, taxpayers have been footing bills of over $1,000 per hour for its services. Continue reading


The Democrats Now Own Iran. They’ll Soon Wish They Didn’t

by Jonathan S. Tobin     •     Commentary Magazine

Obama IranThis morning, President Obama got what he’s been working toward all year. With Senator Barbara Mikulski’s announcement that she will vote to support the Iran nuclear deal, the administration got its 34th vote in the Senate, thus assuring that the president will have enough support to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval of the pact. Mikulski was just the latest of a number of Senate Democrats to throw in with the president on Iran. The only suspense now is whether Obama will get to 41 and thus have enough for a filibuster and prevent a vote on the deal from even taking place. Leaving aside the terrible damage the deal does to U.S. security and the stability of the Middle East, the most far-reaching effect of the deal is that from now on Democrats own Iran. From this moment forward, every act of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, every instance of Iranian aggression and adventurism as well as the Islamist regime’s inevitable march to a nuclear weapon can be laid at the feet of a Democratic Party. With a few exceptions, the Democrats fell meekly behind a president determined to prioritize détente with Iran over the alliance with Israel and the need to defend U.S. interests. By smashing the bipartisan consensus that had existed on Iran up until this year, the Democrats have, in effect, become the hostages of the ayatollahs. This is a decision that will haunt them in the years to come.

In analyzing the struggle that was ultimately won by Obama, it must first be acknowledged that the outcome was determined primarily by a mismatch in terms of the relative power of the two sides. Continue reading


Iran devils get their deal

by New York Daily News

Obama 102The die is cast. President Obama will ram his Iranian nuclear deal through Congress despite majority opposition in both the House and Senate. Now what? Now worry. Worry a lot.

The President on Wednesday secured a 34th supporter in the Senate, enough for him to veto disapproval without fear of an override, and he began pushing for additional votes that would enable supporters to let the pact stand without a roll call.

Although the fight is lost, the Senate owes the people an up-or-down vote on one of the most consequential foreign policy agreements in decades.

Obama says he has boxed the Iranians so tightly that they have no chance of expanding a greatly reduced nuclear program in the short run, and that he or a future President could “snap back” economic sanctions should the Iranians go rogue. Thus, he argues, America will be better positioned to curb Iran for the 15-year life of the pact. Continue reading


How the Feds Asked Me to Rat Out Commenters

Reason.com, the website I edit, was recently commanded by the feds to provide information on a few commenters and not discuss it. Here’s why we’re speaking out.

by Nick Gillespie     •     The Daily Beast

Is there anything more likely to make you shit your pants out of a mix of fear and anger than getting a federal subpoena out of the blue?

Well, yes, there is: getting a gag order that prohibits you from speaking publicly about that subpoena and even the gag order itself. Talk about feeling isolated and cast adrift in the home of the free. You can’t even respond honestly when someone asks, “Are you under a court order not to speak?”

Far more important: talk about realizing that open expression and press freedom are far more tenuous than even the most cynical of us can imagine! Even when you have done nothing wrong and aren’t the target of an investigation, you can be commanded, at serious financial cost and disruption of your business, to dance to a tune called by the long arm of the law. Continue reading


IRS Finds 6,400 Lois Lerner Emails But Won’t Hand Them Over

by Gerri Willis    •     Fox Business NewsIRS new logo

 

The Internal Revenue Service may have found 6,400 emails from Lois Lerner, who oversaw the tax agency’s Exempt Organizations Unit, but the government agency has no plans to share.

Attorneys from the Department of Justice representing the IRS say the emails won’t be shared because the service is making sure that none of them are duplicates. Lerner is at the center of a scandal in which the tax agency denied special tax status to conservative groups. Her emails have been sought by members of Congress and conservative groups alike.

One of those groups, Judicial Watch, has been seeking emails as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed two years ago.  Originally, the IRS said the email trail was permanently lost because the computer drive that contained it crashed. However, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration or TIGTA, was able to retrieve 6,400 emails which it has subsequently sent to the agency. It is these emails that the IRS wants to check for duplicates. Continue reading


ObamaCare: The Bad News Continues to Mount

by Robert E. Moffit     •     National Interest

ObamaCare Side EffectsOn November 15, open enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges begins again. Before the second act of our national healthcare drama commences, let’s review what we’ve learned in Act I.

For starters, everyone now knows that federal officials are challenged when it comes to setting up a website. But they’ve demonstrated the ability to dole out a huge amount of taxpayers’ money for millions of people signing up for Medicaid, a welfare program. And they’ve proved they can send hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers’ dollars to their bureaucratic counterparts in states, like Maryland and Oregon, that can’t manage their own exchanges. But there are many other lessons to be gleaned from Year One of Obamacare. Here are three of the most important ones.

1. Health costs jumped—big time. Huge increases in deductibles in policies sold through the exchanges were a big story in Florida, Illinois and elsewhere. While the average annual deductible for employer-based coverage was a little over $1,000, the exchange deductibles nationwide normally topped $2,000. Continue reading


Coverup: More IRS & Administration Lies

New York Post Editorial Board

IRS scandal_lost emails_lois lernerSome 15 months after Americans learned about the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, we still have no clue how such an abuse was allowed to happen. And every day, the story only gets murkier.

This week, for instance, a government watchdog group, Judicial Watch, said administration officials admitted that all the “missing” e-mails belonging to Lois Lerner (the woman at the heart of the scandal) had been backed up after all — as part of a practice to back up all the government’s e-mails.

No government official had said anything like that before.

As House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., describes it, these reports are another part of “what’s emerging to be just an amazing sequence of cover-up, delay, denial. ” Continue reading


Legalization by Edict

border security_immigration_illegals_obamaby Yuval Levin

Many people in Washington seem to be talking about the prospect of the president unilaterally legalizing the status of several million people who entered the country illegally as though it were just another political question. But if reports about the nature of the executive action he is contemplating are right, it would be by far the most blatant and explosive provocation in the administration’s assault on the separation of powers, and could well be the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American president in peacetime.

I am more open to some form of amnesty than most people around here, I suspect, though the form I could support (as part of a deal that included more serious border control and visa enforcement) would involve legalization short of full citizenship, for reasons well articulated by Peter Skerry here. But the question of how to address the complicated problem of the status of the more than 10 million people who are in our country without legal authorization is a matter for the political system as a whole to address. Continue reading


Did The IRS Really Lose Lois Lerner’s Emails? Let a Special Prosecutor Find Them

IRS SCANDALObama needs to address this ‘phony scandal’ and the public trust with real transparency.

by Ron Fournier

A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn’t blame a person for suspecting a cover-up — the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea party controversy. And, because the public’s trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.

If the IRS can’t find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can. Continue reading


Unions Slam New EPA Carbon Rules

coal miningby Lachlan Markay

Labor unions criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations on carbon emissions from power plants on last Monday, highlighting growing tensions between the environmentalist and working class arms of the Democratic Party.

Those tensions have come to the forefront as leading Democrats embrace environmentalist policies backed by billionaire political donors that are generally opposed by members of the party’s rank and file base.

Some labor unions, groups generally considered loyally Democratic, rebelled last Monday after the EPA released its new regulations, which studies have suggested will carry hefty economic costs. Continue reading