The problem with having a President and a cabinet that lack hands on business experience is that they lack hands on business experience. The quote “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson although it is not found in any of his papers. Regardless of who said it, the quote is accurate.
In its Saturday/Sunday edition, the Wall Street Journal posted an editorial about the nomination of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General. Ms. Lynch is currently in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. She has been busy there.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Evidently Ms. Lynch didn’t read that part of the Constitution, and unfortunately, she is not the only government official who did not read that part. As of late, prosecutors have been using civil forfeiture laws to confiscate private property and use the money gained to shore up state and municipal budgets. One example of this in Ms. Lynch’s district is the case of Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch. In 2012 the federal government drained their bank account of $446,651.11. The bank account was used for deposits from Bi-County Distributors, a company the brothers have run for 27 years. The company stocks convenience stores in the region with candy and snack food.
The editorial explains:
According to the federal government, the brothers came under suspicion because of the frequent small deposits they made in the bank. Under federal law, banks are required to report cash deposits of more than $10,000 at a time to the Internal Revenue Service. Frequent deposits beneath the $10,000 threshold can also trigger federal scrutiny on suspicion the depositors are seeking to evade federal oversight for crimes like money laundering or drug trafficking.
The Hirsch brothers run a small business that deals in small amounts of cash, a fact that the government surely noticed, since they were never charged with a crime. But more than two years after the government grabbed the hundreds of thousands of dollars, none of it has been returned. According to the Institute for Justice, which is representing the family in a lawsuit, the government has also denied the Hirsches a prompt hearing on the forfeiture, putting it in violation of the 2000 Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act.
Ms. Lynch’s office brought in more than $113 million in civil actions between 2011 and 2013. Unfortunately, these cases have spread across the country. Between 2003 and 2011, annual payments from forfeiture went from $218 million to $450 million.
Many small businesses deposit small amounts of cash at various times of the day. Some do it out of fear of theft, others because that is the way their computer bookkeeping systems work, and others because that is how the timing of their office staff works. A small company I worked for at one point made one deposit a day, but since their computer program could only handle twelve checks on one deposit slip, it appeared to be multiple small deposits.
The editorial in the Wall Street Journal suggests that when Ms. Lunch gets her nomination hearing, someone should ask her about the Hirsches.