We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Ashcroft Ignores Missouri Supreme Court Decision as Governor

by Daniel Forbes, Progressive Review Friday, Jan. 19, 2001 at 3:14 PM

Ashcroft tells police officials to ignore a Missouri Supreme Court decision on asset forfeiture monies. Move would cheat school districts of badly needed funds.

errorTwo Missouri police officials quoted then governor John Ashcroft as having told them he'd "`look the other way'" should they ignore an upcoming Missouri State Supreme Court ruling that might direct asset forfeiture monies to be distributed to local school boards in accordance with the state constitution.

The statements were made independently and at different times by both a sheriff in uniform and a police chief at a meeting at the office of then US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Jean Paul Bradshaw, a decade ago, according to Don Burger, then an official with the US Department of Justice. Representing Justice, Burger attended in his role as a community affairs specialist seeking to steer to Missouri schools and treatment programs some of the drug-bust money being illegally kept by police.

John Ashcroft drapes himself in the mantle of "integrity." He used the word in reference to himself several times during his introduction by President-elect Bush as the Attorney General nominee. The repeated characterization fuels the oft-proclaimed notion that Sen. Ashcroft is a man of such moral rectitude that the nation can count on him to fully enforce all laws - no matter his personal views. During the first day of his Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Ashcroft declared, raising his right hand for emphasis, that, "When I swear to uphold the law, I will keep my oath, so help me God." Yet, during Sen. Ashcroft's tenure as governor of Missouri, he blithely told two senior law enforcement officials he would ignore a serious matter of law, according to Burger.

Says Burger, recalling the meeting at Bradshaw's office in Kansas City, MO a decade ago, the two law enforcement officials said Gov. Ashcroft had told them he would "`look the other way'" should the police proceed to ignore a ruling about to emerge from the Missouri Supreme Court. The ruling, ultimately issued in November 1990, mid-way through Sen. Ashcroft's second term as governor, concerned a case brought by a local school board that argued that Missouri law enforcement must follow the state constitution and turn proceeds from asset forfeiture cases over to education rather than keep the money for themselves. Millions of dollars were at stake, money Missouri law enforcement agencies had used for years to buy everything from computers to radio systems to cars and guns.

Now, with a ruling expected shortly, the cops were nervous that their well might run dry. But, according to Burger's recollection of statements by the two top cops, who spoke independently at different times during the meeting, police - especially the highway patrol that reports to the governor's office - need not fear interference from the same cabinet nominee who now pledges to rigorously and impartially enforce the nation's laws.

Hosted by US Attorney Bradshaw, the meeting was attended by members of what was known informally as the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee, says Burger. Among the items on the agenda was a discussion of the "problem of state law," he says - that is, the provision in Article IX, Section 7 of Missouri's constitution that requires "the clear proceeds of all penalties, forfeitures and fines collected hereafter for any breach of the penal laws of the state € shall be distributed annually to the schools of the several counties according to law."

Referring to the sheriff and the police chief, Burger told the Review, "Both men stated at different times during the meeting that - based on their conversations with Governor Ashcroft - the governor said he would 'look the other way' specifically regarding the [Missouri] Supreme Court's ruling and asset seizures going to education. That was the terminology used by both persons." Burger adds that he remembers both individuals using the specific "look the other way" terminology because, "It struck me as an unusual reference regarding the applicability of funds to be set aside for education."

In fact, says Burger, the remarks were salient enough, that he later jotted down the Ashcroft quote in the margins of a Dept. of Justice report he was reading. The governor's statement, in Burger's opinion, indicated that Missouri law enforcement agencies would continue, despite any state supreme court ruling, to "use asset forfeiture to divert money to sheriff and police department projects."

Bradshaw, now in private practice in Kansas City, recalls no such statements by any police officials at any meeting he attended. Mindy Tucker, a spokesperson for the Bush/Cheney transition team said that ignoring a court ruling "is not a position ever held by Gov. Ashcroft." She based her statement, she said, on conversations with "people familiar with his positions on this." But, consider the disclosure last May by Karen Dillon, who's written an award-winning two-year series in the Kansas City Star on asset forfeiture issues:

"In 1990, just a few days after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that state forfeitures had to go to education in most cases, the US attorney for the Western District of Missouri wrote a letter to state and local law enforcement agencies. 'I know that all of you in law enforcement are in desperate need for additional financial resources,' wrote Jean Paul Bradshaw. He explained that police could bring seizures to a federal agency even if the agency had no involvement in the case. 'As most of you know, the money we share through our forfeiture program goes [directly] to the state or local law enforecment agency,' he wrote."

The fruits of Ashcroft's alleged winking and Bradshaw's exhortation were harvested richly. There have been subsequent attempts in 1992, 1993, and last year in the Missouri legislature to strengthen the law that forfeitedassets be conveyed to education. Another attempt will be made in the upcoming session. A report by the staff of the US Senate Judiciary Committee; a 1998 federal district court case and Dillon's massive and continuing series in the Kansas City Star also suggest an end-run around the state constitutional requirements.

City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem of Kansas City, Alvin Brooks, is a former police detective and a charter board member of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. He was also one of President Bush's "Thousand Points of Light," and, according to his bio, was recognized by William Bennett as "a front-line soldier in our war against drugs."

Back in 1990 he was running the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime in Kansas City, which fought crime and drug abuse. During that time Brooks says he had many conversations with Don Burger, representing the Dept of Justice, about the mechanics of asset forfeiture and how to steer some of those funds to local drug treatment programs. He said his discussions with Burger focused on "how could we get law enforcement to bring some money back to the neighborhoods where the forfeitures were taking place." He adds, "Don did research on this and said here's what community groups should do to try to get some of this money."

Told of Burger's allegations, Kevin Zeese, executive director of the Common Sense for Drug Policy Legislative Group opposing the Ashcroft nomination, says "Ashcroft told people to go ahead, to federalize it, I'll look the other way. That's an affirmative action, but one he tried to keep his fingerprints off." Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, says that senators he has spoken to, including Russ Feingold (D-WI), report that Sen. Ashcroft has told his former Senate colleagues that he'll vigorously enforce the law without exception. But Shelton maintains that, "If indeed these allegations are true, it raises major, fundamental concerns about Mr. Ashcroft's ethical ability to serve as attorney general. It begs the question of how he will enforce laws that he doesn't agree with."

The concept by which state and local law enforcement agencies still circumvent the Missouri Constitution is known as "adoptive forfeiture." Basically, the cops call in federal agents, typically DEA agents, and have them "adopt" the case. Stopping a car on Interstate 70, for instance, and finding drugs and a quantity of cash, the Missouri Highway Patrol declares that it has detained the assets (often including the car itself), but has not "seized" them. It leaves that to the DEA. Then, according to federal guidelines, the feds keep 20% of the proceeds and, in effect, launder the remainder back to the local authorities; often, several jurisdictions will slice up the pie. Everyone but school kids is happy.

Quoting the Kansas City Star, the Senate Judiciary Committee report quotes one officer as saying, "We don't deal in state forfeitures at all, because law enforcement doesn't derive any revenues from that." Evidence that the tactic continues is found in a concurring opinion issued by a federal judge in the Eight Circuit in 1998, who found that the Missouri Highway Patrol and the DEA "successfully conspired to violate the Missouri Constitution."

James D. Worthington, a partner in the Lexington, MO, law firm of Aull, Sherman, Worthington, Giorza and Hamilton, represented the local school board in the 1990 case. He says the case was prompted by press reports of three separate forfeitures of approximately $1 million each in a particular county, and the school board in Odessa reasoned that surely they should have received some funds. After the court ruling, says Worthington, police agencies indicated they would comply. "But then they proceeded with a sleight of hand, a bait and switch, a calling the feds down to have the feds 'seize' the money. It's been nothing but organized blackmail, graft and corruption."

Don Burger joined Justice in 1968, recruited by Ramsey Clark to spend a career working primarily to foster improved relations among the many different shades of Americans. He served the final years of a twenty-two year career based in Kansas City. Retired from federal service, he's now a consultant on civil rights issues.

Atkins Warren is now regional director of the Dept. of Justice for the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, and he worked with Burger for many years in Washington. "He was a very good employee," said Warren. "He did a lot to resolve community conflict." Warren termed Burger "credible," then added, "He was excellent."

US Rep. Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, got to know Burger through their work with the National Association of Human Rights Workers; Rep. Clyburn is a past president and Burger served a term as national secretary. (Burger was also president of his government employees union local.) Rep. Clyburn, who opposes the Ashcroft nomination, says, "Burger was always a straight shooter with me. I never had any dealings with him that make me question whether he was a straight shooter or not."

Leonard Zeskind, formerly research director for the anti-Klan, Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal, worked with Burger combating hate crimes and white supremacy organizations such as the Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord in rural Missouri.

Currently writing a book for Farrar, Strauss, Giroux on white nationalist groups and a former McArthur Foundation "genius" award winner, Zeskind declares Burger, "a reasonable guy, a nice, smart guy."

In fact, Burger is such a straight arrow, he actually referred a potential favorable witness on Sen. Ashcroft's behalf to Missouri Senator Kit Bond. With accusations of racism hounding Sen. Ashcroft, Burger says he referred an African-American woman to Sen. Bond who was anxious to speak favorably of her experience at Evangel University in Springfield, MO, the college run by Ashcroft's father. Marlene Henderson confirms that last Friday, Burger called both Sen. Bond's Missouri and Washington offices on her behalf.

Burger says he's fairly agnostic on Ashcroft's nomination, but that he's spent a career trying to develop funding for drug treatment, among other things, and wants to call attention to where seized assets are still being directed.
About the Author:
New York freelancer Daniel Forbes testified before both the US. Senate and the House of Representatives regarding his series in Salon on sub rosa White House payments to television networks and magazines rewarding anti-drug content. A subsequent Salon article detailed the media campaign's origins as an attempt to influence voters on state medical marijuana initiatives.

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Local News

Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018? J01 12:18AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 4:03AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 3:58AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News



Judge Delays Ruling on Puerto Rico Debt Deal White House Opposes Island's Food Assistance J18 6:04PM



Paraphysique de proxémie guerrière J18 7:59AM


FARCELONA 8.17.2017 J17 3:23PM



PR Debt Cancel, Judge Reviews Cofina Debt J16 9:04PM

Réseautage, fragmentation du capital J16 4:20PM

Paraphysique de manipulation mentale et sociale J15 9:51AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

Markets as a Fetish, Globalization, and Dissent Management J14 1:03PM

State Debts - The Primal German Fear J13 5:09PM

Sans liberté, sans égalité, sans fraternité J13 8:09AM

From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump - and Beyond J12 9:22PM

Copper Cures Cancer J11 1:42PM

Steven Taylor, Investor who Evicts J11 9:24AM

Du sectarisme, des sectes, des clans J11 8:10AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen J10 6:34PM

Patrick Kilpatrick discusses and signs Dying for Living J09 11:51PM

SexActs vs Sexuality USA 2018 Invitations to Power Marriages without Affection J09 8:36PM

Changer de mentalité, changer de société J09 9:17AM

Teacher Strike? Time for Labor Studies J09 6:26AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy