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Posted: February 08, 2017

Trump targets Texas state senator in talk with sheriffs: 'We'll destroy his career'

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            Trump targets Texas state senator in talk with sheriffs: 'We'll destroy his career'
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Roberto Villalpando and Asher Price

Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas —

Update 4:50 p.m. CST: It appears the Texas state senator who indirectly earned the ire of President Donald Trump on Wednesday was likely Republican Bob Hall.

Hall, R-Edgewood, who was elected in 2014 with the support of the tea party, represents Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson’s county. In at least one town hall meeting in the lead-up to the legislative session, Hall told constituents that he was considering filing a bill that would require that property cannot be forfeited without a criminal conviction.

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Hall’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.

But Hall would make an unlikely target for Trump: He visited Washington for the inauguration and posted on his Facebook page “We have a chance to move forward in unity to “Make America Great Again.” The post also included a photo of him next to Donald Trump.

In an email exchange with the Austin American-Statesman, Eavenson ruled out two state senators who have filed bills seeking to limit civil asset forfeiture – state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, and state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen – but Eavenson sidestepped an American-Statesman query about Hall.

“My point was to emphasize how much sheriffs opposed this philosophy (bill) which if passed would hurt law enforcement and benefit the cartel,” he told the American-Statesman. “It was not meant in a personal manner. It just would not be good for law enforcement nor for our citizens.”

>> Watch a clip of Trump's remarks here


Earlier: President Donald Trump offered to “destroy” the career of an unnamed Texas state senator who Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson complained about at a White House meeting on Tuesday.

Eavenson told Trump that a state senator, who the North Texas sheriff declined to name, wanted to introduce legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to get a conviction before seizing an offender’s assets.

“Can you believe that?” Trump interjected.

The sheriff said the drug cartels would “build a monument” to the senator in Mexico if “he” could get the legislation passed.

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“Who is the state senator?” Trump asked. “Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”

The room, which included reporters, White House staffers and a few other sheriffs from around the country, erupted in laughter.

A state senator who has introduced legislation that fits Eavenson’s description is Konni Burton, a North Texas Republican from Colleyville in Tarrant County.

Burton filed a bill last month that would require a felony conviction before authorities can seize the suspect’s property.

Law enforcement agencies often rely on the seizure of assets in a criminal case as way to supplement budgets. According to the Institute for Justice, an average of $41.5 million a year goes into local law enforcement budgets across the state because of forfeitures.

It’s not clear from the conversation whether Eavenson knew Burton was behind the bill.

Another state senator who has introduced legislation related to civil asset forfeiture is state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, whose district borders Rockwall.

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Huffines, who won the seat in 2014 with the support of the tea party, said in January that Texas should “strive toward the ultimate goal of repealing civil asset forfeiture, as other states have.

His Senate Bill 662 and SB 663 would require the reporting of more information related to the “questionable practice of seizing people’s belongings without even charging them with a crime.”

His measures also aim to allocate the proceeds of civil asset forfeiture to the Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund, to “break the perverse incentive for law enforcement to seize belongings in order to grow their slush fund,” he said. “When those who seize the belongings don’t get to keep the proceeds, perhaps the seizures will be more limited and judicious.”

Neither Huffines nor Eavenson immediately returned American-Statesman requests for comment.


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