Rand Paul blasts Lynch over 'asset forfeiture'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDem wins Kentucky state House seat in district Trump won by 49 points GOP's tax reform bait-and-switch will widen inequality Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday slammed Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, as he testified about the need to reform to “asset forfeiture” policies.

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“Loretta Lynch became famous for her herculean confiscation of private property,” Paul, who last week announced his 2016 presidential campaign, said during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “She seized over a $100 million in forfeited funds during her time as U.S. Attorney and then skirted the reforms that were put in place 15 years ago to protect the innocent by not filing the paperwork that would have allowed those reforms to kick in.”

“When questioned about civil forfeiture, Loretta Lynch seemed to be unconcerned with the need for reform,” he added. “I think no one who listens to these horrendous abuses of our civil liberties should be not moved to think that we really do need reform in our country.”

The libertarian senator opposes Lynch’s nomination, which is currently waiting on Senate approval, in part because of her backing of the forfeiture policies. He appeared at a hearing held on the practice, which has been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The controversial policies allow law enforcement officers to seize property from people who have not been charged with a crime. Lynch called forfeiture a “wonderful tool” that allows prosecutors to “take the profit out of crime” at her confirmation hearing.

Forfeiture emerged as a strategy to take away the proceeds of crimes during the war on drugs. Under the programs, law enforcement is able to seize property from individuals — even if they were never charged with a crime or convicted.

But recent investigations have shown that police often abuse the policies and use the proceeds of their seizures to pay for items like cars and weapons.

Paul has introduced legislation to limit the practice — and has also made criminal justice reform a prominent part of his message as he looks to bring minority and younger voters to his campaign for the White House.

“Civil forfeiture turns justice on its head, our current laws assume you are guilty until you can prove your innocence,” Paul said at the hearing. “This is directly in contradiction to what we should stand for as a Republic.”

He also noted that the forfeiture policies disproportionately affect minorities.