The not-normalcy continued apace today with new revelations of ongoing Russian intelligence contacts with the Trump campaign. WaPo is calling it a full blown crisis and suggesting this might actually be a bridge too far for Republican senators (Paul Ryan, on the other hand was more dismissive of talk of independent investigations). Hopeful liberals saw these developments as the first threads of an administration unraveling in scandal (something like the first reports of the Watergate break in). It’s probably a little early to make that call, but there had been rumors of intelligence community investigations of the Russian connections, so there may be more to come.
The Illinois ACLU legislative alert today helpfully informed me of upcoming legislation that would stop civil asset forfeiture in our state. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal mechanism where police departments can seize property from someone who has not actually been convicted of a crime. Like a kind of institutionalized graft, these law enforcement agencies can use these seized assets to supplement department budgets. Even crazier, suspects who are never prosecuted have to sue to get their stuff back, and the burden of proof then rests on them. It seems like it would be completely unconstitutional on its face, and yet police departments are addicted to the cash they get through these seizures. Not surprisingly, incentivizing sketchy behavior by police departments results in more sketchy behavior, and some of the stories are truly horrific. So if you live in our fair state, make a point to call in support of House Bill 689 and Senate Bill 1578. If you live in another state, sign up for the ACLU legislative alert so you’ll know when this kind of thing comes up in the future.