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.
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.”
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.
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.