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So THAT’s why he loves civil asset forfeiture so much!

babeuA few weeks ago, my buddy Jason Pye from FreedomWorks appeared on Fox Business alongside a smarmy “law enforcement officer” named Paul Babeu to discuss civil asset forfeiture. The short debate came on the heels of Donald Trump making a not so amusing joke about destroying the career of a Texas state senator who introduced legislation requiring suspects to be convicted before their property can be seized. The President seems to oppose reforms – vocally enough that he makes jokes about destroying the careers of those who believe reform is necessary.

Civil asset is not funny, however. While I fully understand the need to go after assets connected to illicit activity, blocking assets, freezing them, or confiscating them should be an action taken after at the very least a reasonable legal standard proving wrongdoing has been met!

Ferpetessake, even the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that administers the Department of the Treasury’s sanctions program has to meet an evidentiary standard before freezing the assets of bad guys! Hell, OFAC just sanctioned drug trafficker and Venezuelan Vice President Tareck el Aissami and his buddy Samark Jose Lopez Bello “for providing material assistance, financial support, or goods or services in support of the international narcotics trafficking activities of, and acting for or on behalf of, El Aissami” under the Kingpin Act, and they still had to meet legal sufficiency. And there are specific steps (that don’t cost a life’s savings) to petition for removal from the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

Oh, and by the way, OFAC doesn’t keep the funds that are frozen to buy cool gadgets with.

But no, apparently police departments nationwide face no such constraints.

As Jason noted recently, law enforcement too often permanently seizes the property of innocent people as a revenue generating measure. That’s a no go.

According to the Institute for Justice, thirty-one states require prosecutors to show only a preponderance of the evidence, or a fifty-one percent likelihood that property is connected to illicit activity, to subject property to forfeiture. Basically, it’s a coin flip. Thirty-five states and the federal government put the burden of proof in forfeiture proceedings on the property owner, denying American citizens their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to due process and the presumption of innocence.

In his debate with Babeu on Fox Business, Jason made some very logical points that this is an issue of constitutional rights.

Babeu countered with the usual talking point about just how much money cartels have compared with law enforcement and how it’s a tool to use against criminal syndicates. He brought up the seizure of cash and property in Arizona from the Sinaloa cartel and claimed that the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence” was a sufficient burden of proof to meet when it comes to relieving individuals of their very basic right to keep what they have earned.

You should watch this video just for the satisfaction of seeing Jason refute Babeu’s claim that only bad guys get snared in these asset forfeiture traps by bringing up an example of an innocent woman who was relieved of her property and was only able afford even challenge this forfeiture in court with the help of the ACLU.

Babeau’s oh-so erudite response: *snort* The ACLU.

Jason’s counter: Civil liberties are civil liberties.

Well, I think we now can make a pretty high confidence assessment about why Babeu is such a big supporter of civil asset forfeiture.

Federal authorities have launched a probe of Pinal County’s top two former law enforcement officials and whether they inappropriately used profits from seized property for personal and professional expenses.

County officials confirmed they are cooperating with FBI inquiries into former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and County Attorney Lando Voyles over the use of  funds from suspects’ confiscated possessions.

Newly elected Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said he also has asked the Arizona auditor general to review Pinal County’s asset-forfeiture records to determine if monies were properly used. He asked the auditor general to recommend the best way to use those funds.

Ooops!

Now, an investigation does not necessarily mean guilt, or that it will lead to a guilty verdict, but it’s awfully interesting to me that Babeu – a two-time loser as a candidate for a Congressional seat – is suspected of participating in a scheme to funnel money to a private group – the Arizona Public Safety Foundation, which for years operated out of the sheriff’s office and was staffed by sheriff’s deputies – used RICO funds from Pinal County to help support sheriff’s office activities and functions and bought things for him and his department. By funneling money to this private group, “Babeu is able to avoid procurement laws and other transparency regulations which usually apply to government purchasing,” a lawsuit cited by the Arizona Republic stated.

Ooops!

And Babeu had no comment about the allegations, either.

Ooops!

Look, there are tools that the government can and should use in its efforts against illicit financial flows and other types of criminal activity. They are effective tools when used properly. When they’re used to pad budgets and purchase goodies, we’re incentivizing theft, and encouraging the blurring of legal standards of guilt and innocence and corruption. It shifts the burden of proof from the state to the defendant, forcing them to spend thousands of dollars to prove their innocence and get their property back, instead of putting the onus on the state to show their guilt before allowing confiscation. It ruins livelihoods. It destroys financial stability. It infringes on the property rights of the people. It stands the very concept of “innocent until proven guilty” on its ear and imposes punishment based on that dangerous reversal.

It’s wrong.

It would be ironic, wouldn’t it, if Babeu had his property confiscated before actual guilt or innocence could be determined?

After all, if he’s such a proponent of wealth confiscation before innocence can be determined, he won’t mind getting his shit stolen and then spending thousands of dollars in court fees to get it back… maybe… almost definitely not, right?

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24 responses

  1. “After all, if he’s such a proponent of wealth confiscation before innocence can be determined, he won’t mind getting his shit stolen and then spending thousands of dollars in court fees to get it back, right?”

    Had a somewhat unrelated question–at what financial point is the defendant afforded free legal counsel? I would think if someone made, say, 150K a year they couldn’t just opt in for a free attorney, but I always wondered how this was determined.

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    1. I couldn’t begin to tell ya, but I would think anyone can opt for court appointed counsel. It’s just that I would think more wealthy people wouldn’t want a court-appointed flunky who probably has next to zero experience.

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      1. Appointmented counsel only occurs/required for criminal matters. In a civil case you’re on your own.

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  2. Similar actions were happening in Louisiana years ago. People were pulled over for a traffic violation, and had cash (large amounts as determined by the arresting officer) seized by police. The contention of the departments was they were drug dealers, and many were treated horribly by the supposed servants of the people.

    Getting the money back was an arduous process, and many probably never had their money returned. I remember federal investigations ended in convictions of some involved, but since it was so widespread, the number affected by the illegal seizures will probably never be known.

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  3. C.A.F. is disgusting. It should be called what it is, Theft covered by a badge.
    “Babeu countered with the usual talking point about just how much money cartels have compared with law enforcement”
    So instead of real police work, you just make it up as you go along and we’re supposed to be OK that?
    Fighting drug smugglers is tough, I get it. Earning honest money is tough too and shouldn’t be subject to the whims of LEOs who want it as bad as the person who actually earned it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Many jurisdictions, including federal are now taking the position that you should be ready to go to criminal trial especially for currency seizures if you make the seizure. If the seizure (federal) is contested a “Petition Investigation” is conducted. Its often at this point that the petitioner drops the claim in order to avoid criminal indictment for oerjury andvthe inherit crime that caused the seizure.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. if you go to whitehouse.gov and look through the petitions, there is a petition to end civil asset forfeiture. I encourage everyone to go and sign it. if we get 100,000 signatures, Trump will have to respond to it. you’ll probably have to go all the way to the bottom of the page and “load more”. I did when I signed it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’ll doubtlessly respond ‘no, fuck you very much’.

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  6. Not much I can add, Nicki. It’s rather scary to read though.

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  7. Ranger Rick is correct in that in civil matters, you are on your own. And with the civil asset forfieture situation in many states electing to pursue this form of, shall we say, “tax base enhancement”, when involved in “criminal cases” it’s entirely legal. In most, if not all others involving mostly no probable cause traffic stops or other “inquisitions”, it’s completely illegal. Which shows just how far off the Constitutionally protected rights our courts and jusyice system have gotten.
    Most of this info comes from a Constitutional ex-attorney. What is the completely dumbass part from these assfaced peckerknobs is that “you” are not on trial, your assets are on trial. You must prove their innocence, which in many cases can take literally years and tens of thousand of dollars, and then you may not get anything back.
    So what are they gonna do when one of your assets are asked to respond to a question in court and it refuses, convict it of contempt and sieze it anyway??? No matter how you look at it, asset forfieture in civil matter is illegal and has turned into the scam of the century. Trick is to have nothing in your name, everything you have control over should be owned by a “corporation” of some sort. As much as I despise the man, Robert Deniro had the best line I’ve ever heard in “Heat”…. NEVER own anything you can’t walk away from in 30 minutes flat….

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  8. I’m not even willing to see the law go after “assets connected with illegal activity” even after conviction. That’s where it started, and that’s how we found ourselves on a slippery slope to our current horrible position. Seized assets should be limited to actual contraband or stolen goods, period. Goods and cash obtained from selling or trading contraband should be immune to seizure, and if that’s an injustice, it’s lesser injustice needed to prevent greater ones.

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  9. What politicians and law enforcemt officers say: “cartels have so much money compared with law enforcement and civil asset forfeiture is an important tool to use against criminal syndicates”

    What i understand:
    “Noooooooooo. You don’t understand. We desperatly need to seiz your assets with abysmal legal standards. It’s necessary to somehow get a lid on this multi billion dollar industry run by mostly psychopathic killers. We have created. By forbbiding the creation and selling of , on the surface level easy to produce substances. Theeby driving the profitmargins through the roof. And then cracking down on creation and transport of these sustances so hard that only super organzied groups run by intelligent sociopaths have a chance to act on that market, thereby channeling all the marketpotential directly to them.
    Because otherwise, extremly stupid, consenting adults might poison their own body and harm….mostly themselfes. Which we can’t allow, so we made a law crackdown on it for your own good. Ofcourse, protecting you that way requires us to lock up millions of people who wanted to posion themselve or help other people who really wanted to poison themselves poison themselves. Phew, they are probably so glad we saved them now they are in the federal prisonsystem and will probably never again get a decent job even if they get clean!
    Anyway, as i was saying, this problem is so huge now, we really need you to forfeit your basic personal liberties so we can keep protecting all these people we throw into prison from doing something really stupid! ”

    ARGH!!!!! Seriously, at this point even the most ardent paternalist and collectivist should be forced to conclude that the war on drugs has degenerated into such a mire of travestys, that the net resolut for society would be better, if we just let all the stupid people who really want to, make the personal choic to swallow, snort or inject themselfes with whatever body-destryoing toxins they want and then let them carry to consequences. Even IF you think interfering wiht peoples personal autonomy for the good of society is justified….this whole thing is such an abyss of horrible net negatives for EVERYONE.
    Ok i take that back. It’s really good for people running drug cartels and would-be law-and-order politicians.
    God i hate authoriarians.
    Sorry for the rant Niki.

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  10. “It would be ironic….” On another topic, a commenter said, “Schadenfreude and Karma make jolly bedfellows.”

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  11. I consider any and all who believe in asset forfeiture without a criminal conviction and clear line of the source to be as low a scum as child murderers.

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  12. It is theft under the color of law. Last year the amount of money seized under CAF outstripped the total amount of money lost to theft and robbery in this country. So there’s at least one area where LE is beating the crooks

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  13. What I say is that forfeiture before proof of guilt IS nothing but using the law to steal and the same for the rest of government using tax laws to steal from hard working folks to support citizens here too lay to work, illegals, or supposed “refugees” here who aren’t interested in assimilation. Politicians love to use the law to steal from honest people.

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  14. How many weeks back was this? Babieu is no longer the Pinal County Sherriff.

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    1. The interview? Mid-February, IIRC. The reporting says he’s a “former law enforcement official.”

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  15. […] So, a former sheriff, and stalwart defender of civil asset forfeiture, is being investigated for using the property for personal and professional expenses. […]

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  16. Paul Babeu is not the Sheriff anymore of Pinal County. He lost for Congress in CD1 in AZ because of the video I produced to ABC15.COM/SHERIFF about him admitting the abuse and torture to the DeSisto Students while he was Headmaster/Ex.Director at the DeSisto School in Stockbridge. He is used Rico Funds for his own personally use and brought most of his Babeu Siblings and family members to ST. Louis to the Sheriff Event and used that money to pay for plane tickets, 3 day hotels, food etcs. Paul left the new Sheriff Zero in the Rico funds. Pinal County is not near the boarder and Paul exaggerates about the amount of cartel activity there. Paul is under FBI investigation right now for Rico fund abuse by the FBI and he can laugh all he wants on Fox, but everyone else with be laughing at him in the end. Paul is unemployed right now, and he needs to stop pretending he is the Sheriff….. he is delusional and a liar………Best Regards, Lucy Babeu

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    1. The story said he’s no longer the sheriff. Thank you for your comment, though, and for prompting me to do a little digging! WOW!

      Like

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