Rush to Reason, Laura Woods, May 26, 2016

Station: KLZ, 560 AM

Show:     Rush to Reason

Guests:  Woods


Date:      May 26, 2016

Topics:   Civil Asset Forfeiture, Department of Justice, Loretta Lynch, Donald Trump, Law Enforcement, Colorado Legislature, Senator Kevin Lundberg, Lobbyists, Confiscate, Campaign, Senate District 19, Rand Paul, Westminster, Arvada,

Click Here for Audio – Part 1

Click Here for Audio – Part 2


HOST DAN MUERER:   […] Dan Muerer, in for the vacationing John Rush. And we’re going to talk about asset forfeiture. Now, this is something that maybe a lot of people don’t understand or even know what it is. I find it, quite frankly, scary.  I find it [to be] one of these things that it’s an overreach of the government.  Our guest this hour is going to be State Sen. Laura Woods.  And Laura, welcome to Rush to Reason. How are you doing this afternoon?

STATE SENATOR FROM SENATE DISTRICT 19, LAURA WOODS:  I’m great.  Thank you for having me on.

MUERER:  Hey, Laura, you’re out walking neighborhoods!

WOODS:  Yes, sir!

MUERER:  So, first of all, Laura, tell people as a little bit about yourself and about your campaign.

WOODS:  I am a Senate District 19 Senator and candidate, because I’m running in November.  We — my district covers Arvada and Westminster–from Sheridan over to Indiana, and 120th down to I-70.  It’s a good mix of residential areas and business areas.  It’s a bedroom community, basically.  So, and there’s a lot of unaffiliated voters in Senate District 19, and about a third/a third/a third between Republican, Democrat, and unaffiliated. So, the campaign is focused right now on fundraising and knocking on doors. And we’re just getting in front of, and face-to-face with, as many residents of the district as we can.

MUERER:  And Laura, before we get into our topic of discussion, why don’t you tell people where they can go to donate.

WOODS:  To donate, you can go to, and ‘Laura’ is L-A-U-R-A.  We have a secure donation site on that – or page– on that site and I would appreciate any amount your listeners would care to give.   I am the single biggest targeted seat in the state Senate race this year.  They know it’s a swing district.  I only won this race by 662 votes in 2014.  And so the Democrats, who are desperate for control of not only the Senate but your life and mine, want to take this seat back.  And so we are very appreciative of any donations of any amount that your listeners might want to contribute, because we’re using it to, again, get out to the voters.  It doesn’t cost me anything to go knocking on doors but we have mailers and other expenses as well.

MUERER:  Well, it does cost you something!  It costs you time and—

WOODS:  [laughs]

MUERER:  –a lot of time!  No, seriously! A lot of time, and this money does help with that because there’s a chance you can go knocking on a door and somebody’s not going to be there.  Or, you spend a lot of time knocking on these doors and the money helps, you know, kind of double your efforts by being able to leave a flier or do a mailing or something to help get your name and your cause out there.  Isn’t that correct?

WOODS:  That is correct.  And we’re paying for palm cards which we leave at the doors when no one is home. And I also have yard signs and banners that we’re putting out around the district, as well.  And that all costs money.

MUERER:  Yes, it does.  And Laura, just because I’m not sure, are you being primaried at all?

WOODS:  No, I do not have a primary.

MUERER:  Oh, okay.  I just wasn’t clear on that.  Okay, that’s really good.

WOODS:  It is.

MUERER:  So basically, we’re just were just focusing on keeping this — keeping you in, and keeping the Democrats out.

WOODS:  That’s exactly right.

MUERER:  And, to me, that’s a noble cause.

WOODS:  [laughts] I cannot agree more.

MUERER:  So Laura, we’re going to talk about civil asset forfeiture, because I think you’re really up on this subject.  And you were – I know last session you were trying to run some bills to protect people from this, but first, what I want to do is, I found the 60 second little video that explains civil asset forfeiture. So hang on, and we’re going to play this real quick.

WOODS:  All right . Excellent.

[RECORDED INFORMATIONAL AUDIO]:  “This is civil asset forfeiture in 60 seconds.  That’s right.  You can lose your property and money even if you haven’t done anything wrong.  Seizing the profits from criminal activity is a centuries-old legal tradition.  And it makes sense.  Crime shouldn’t pay.  Except, it’s not always white knights and terrible villains.  Police can seize an innocent person’s property if a criminal used it.  Worse yet, if police decide your money is suspicious they can take that too.   Like this musician, who wanted to make it big in LA, so he packed up his life savings, and hopped on a train from Michigan.  All of his cash was seized in Albuquerque, even though there wasn’t proof that he and his money were involved in a crime.   He wasn’t arrested, just stranded in New Mexico.  Law enforcement gets to keep and use this suspicious money to pad their budgets.  But wouldn’t all money look suspicious if you could buy a breakroom margarita machine with it?  And people have to spend large sums of money and prove their innocence just to get their own stuff back.  Here’s one easy improvement: don’t let law-enforcement keep the money and property they seize.  Trust me, your stuff will stop looking so suspicious.”

MUERER:  So Laura, did — that pretty much sums up what civil asset forfeiture – or what it does and how it works.  Does it not?

WOODS:  Yeah.  It’s a good explanation of civil asset forfeiture.

MUERER:  But, what I don’t think – and maybe – and I don’t even know if the video does a good job of this –  is explain – I don’t know if it explains what can really happen to you and how easy it is for somebody to confiscate your property that you have on you at maybe a traffic stop, or like at the airport, or even like in this case, you know, like the train station.  Can you explain that a little bit more?

WOODS:  Well, all law-enforcement has to do — and it’s not just law-enforcement, but my most recent case of this came through the Postal Service.  So, the post office, law enforcement, the federal agencies – all they have to do is suspect that your asset — whether it’s cash, or a vehicle, or a home — was gained through illegal activity or derived from illegal activity.  And so, you’ve got all that cash because you’re going to buy drugs, or you’ve got all that cash because you sold drugs.  Or you’ve got that home or that vehicle because you are a criminal.  And so, they can then just take it.

MUERER:  So, and you don’t have to be doing anything wrong.  Let’s just say, –okay.  Let’s put on Dan’s tin hat, here.  Let’s say I think, you know, the banks are going to collapse and I just don’t trust them. I’m not keeping my assets in there anymore.  I’m converting everything to cash.  So let’s say I do it.  Let’s say I have $50,000 that I converted into cash over time, and now I’ve got all this cash on me.  And I just decide to grap – I don’t know – 15, 20 thousand of it, because I’m going to go down to Florida and maybe buy something – and nothing illegal, but maybe I’m going to buy a time-share.  I don’t know, whatever it might be.  So, I’m driving down to Florida and I get stopped in, let’s say, Missouri.  And I’m not doing anything wrong, but they discover this cash on me.  What could possibly happen?

WOODS:  They can take it.   And they do, at times, take it.  They’ll ask — in a traffic stop, often, they will ask, “Do you have any cash in the car?”  And people who don’t have anything to hide will honestly answer that question, “Uh, yeah.  I’ve got, you know, money.  I’m going to Florida to buy a time-share with.”  And that’s all it takes for law enforcement to say, “Well,”  you know, “Step out of the car.  We think you’re going to Florida to buy drugs.  And we’re going to take the cash.”  And then, often, they will follow it up with, “And if you want to forfeit the cash, we won’t take you to the station and file charges.  However, if you want to fight us on this, we will take you down to the station and file charges.”  And so, you know, the big arm of the law has got Joe Commuter over a barrel.  You know, do I lose my cash or do I get charges filed against me?  It’s a threat, it’s intimidation, and extortion.  And this most recent case that I had been made aware of, a gentleman moved here from Virginia and his business partner in Virginia was sending him some cash to buy a limo with, in their – that’s what they do, they run a limo business.  And the post office showed up at his door with the box and said, “Are you So-and-So?”  And he said, “Yes, I am.”  And they said, “Well,  our drug sniffing dog smelled something in this package and so you can forfeit it or –.”  And they took his cash.

MUERER:  Unbelievable!

WOODS:  And that happened right here in Denver.  I will honestly say, Denver PD — and evidently, the Denver USPS — is one of the worst cities in Colorado for asset forfeiture.  They — you hear the stories all the time.  Two guys in a truck, they drive up to a convenience store.  The driver, who owns the truck goes into the store, and the passenger is propositioned by an undercover cop.  She propositions him at the window and when he accepts her offer, they swoop in and bust him and seize the truck.  He didn’t own the truck.  He was just sitting in it, but they seized this track and they sold it before the owner had a chance to plead his case and get it back.  So Denver is very aggressive with their –.

MUERER:  This is just unbelievable, Laura!  And I don’t understand why there isn’t more of an outcry against this.  Laura, I’ve got to take a break right here –,

WOODS:  Okay.

MUERER:  –and when we come back, I want to talk – I want to get more into depth on this.  And one of the things I want to try to figure out is how did this start, and where did this – where – how did this begin?  Where did this come?  […] [live promotional spot]

MUERER:  […] And on the phone with me, I have State Senator Laura Woods, and we’re talking about about civil asset forfeiture.  And Laura, you just give us a horror story of what can happen –like in Denver, maybe anywhere else – you are with somebody, you park your car, somebody does something stupid in your property, then  the next thing you know, your property’s being hauled away by the city or the state!

WOODS:  And sold.

MUERER:  And sold!  And you have no recourse!  I mean, this is like– this is like legalized theft of some sort. I’m trying to get my mind wrapped her work in the study of medium the history of this where this began?

WOODS:  I do.  It started as a tool that we put in place for law enforcement fight the war on drugs when drugs became remember what decade it was that it seems like it was late 70s early 80s and –.

MUERER:  Well, yeah, Nancy Reagan had her “just say no” and the war on drugs.  I think it was probably the 80s when this took off.

WOODS:  Yeah, so, I mean, it was a useful tool for law enforcement to fight drug dealers but they’ve blown it beyond the war on drugs to a funding source for law enforcement offices in some locations.  I will tell you honestly, most Colorado law enforcement agencies don’t excel at this like Denver does. Most do not. I tried to run a bill in the 2014 session that would completely revamp how asset forfeiture is done in Colorado because the federal government has a program – the Department of Justice — where — it is called equitable sharing into their program says to all the law enforcement agencies in the country if you want to grab an asset off the street and involve a federal agency then we will seize it and forfeit it at the federal level where we don’t require a conviction first and we’ll split the profits with you at the state. So from the to the cities to the counties in the state control the drug task force all of these agencies in Colorado have been using equitable sharing with the Department of Justice.

MUERER:  Laura, why don’t you just call it organized crime?  Why don’t you just call it a shakedown?  Why don’t you just call Guido, over here?   You know?  [affecting Italian-American accent] “He’s gonna just shake you down a little bit.”  You know?

WOODS:  Well that’s what we did.  We went to that hearing and Sen. Lundberg was on the committee and he was saying, “What about due process?”

MUERER:  Yeah! Please!

WOODS:  And law enforcement lined up one after another after another to say, “The courts have said we don’t have to worry about due process. Give us the money.”  And, you know, of course they throw out, “Well, you know we can’t fight human trafficking if we don’t get this money.  We can’t fight drug dealers if we don’t get this money.”  And we said, “We want you to fight human trafficking and drug dealers, but not on the backs of innocent citizens.”

MUERER:  No, I mean, why should I be taxed twice?  Why should – I pay my taxes, and then I really get screwed – for lack of a better term—if I get pulled over and I have some cash on me.  I mean, I remember one time I travelled with a guy, when I lived in Minneapolis.  We, uh – he was a helicopter guy.  He owned these big helicopters and they did it for crop dusting and all of that kind of stuff.  And we drove down from Minneapolis to near Orlando to pick up some new helicopter blades, and the guy just don’t cash.  This is what he did. You know?  So, I can only imagine, he probably had $25,000 in cash on him to buy these helicopter blades.

WOODS:  Yeah.

MUERER:  And what – I mean, he could have gotten pulled over and had that confiscated, right? And everything he owned at that point.

WOODS:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  There was a North Carolina man who was driving down a couple of states to buy restaurant equipment. It is one of the well-known stories when you look up asset forfeiture.  And he was going to buy restaurant equipment and they stopped him and took his cash.  And not only did he lose the opportunity to buy that restaurant equipment but his restaurant failed because of it.  It took so long for him to get any portion of it back, his restaurant — he went out of business.   So, it happens around the country and in some states it’s a lot worse than it is here in Colorado.  But my first bill was aimed at reforming this.  My second — my bill last year was going to be just some reporting on it, because the Department of Justice stopped their equitable sharing program.  Right before the session started, they said, “We’re not going to be able to share that money with the states or the local law enforcement anymore because we need the money at the federal level.”  And so all the law enforcement agencies in Colorado were now going to have to operate under state law where we do have a conviction requirement before they can take your stuff, and, um –.

MUERER:  Oh, so in other words, you mean the payoff from the federal government made it legal.  But now, since there is no payoff, we really don’t have an incentive to do this anymore.

WOODS:  Well, they have an incentive to do it under state law where we have a conviction requirement for –

MUERER:  Which is good!

WOODS:  Yeah, it’s an excellent law.  And we were just trying to strengthen it a little bit.  So we went into the session thinking, “Well, let’s just run a reporting bill on asset forfeiture.  Let’s find out how much the city of Denver is taking, who they are taking it from, what that person was charged with, what happened to the charges, what happened the asset, and let’s put some sunshine on this across the whole state on every law enforcement agency.”  Well, that bill got–.

MUERER:  Now Laura, that to me sounds like a bill that any good liberal could get behind.

WOODS:  Right?

MUERER:  Right.

WOODS:  And – yeah, and the Democrats were not my problem on this bill, on this issue.  It was the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary committee that killed my first bill.  And I knew it would be the Republicans in that committee—other than Senator Lundberg – who would fight me on the second bill, as well.  But shortly after the session started it became evident I wasn’t going to be granted the opportunity to run that bill and then the DOJ reinstated equitable sharing–

MUERER:  Oh, geez!

WOODS:  –just shortly after they suspended it.  So, next session we’re going to have –.  We have to look at this issue again because we’ve got — uh, it’s just plain wrong.

MUERER:  Well, can you speculate to the reasons why the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee wouldn’t want to shed some light on this and in and help us build stave this off?

WOODS:  Well, and perhaps they would allow a reporting bill to go through.  But I’ll tell you, law enforcement has a very strong lobby down at the capitol.  One of the judicial committee members is a former law enforcement officer, and the other one gets a lot of pressure from her down-home Sheriff.  And so they fight the idea that I want to bring these bills –law-enforcement does—tooth and nail.  And so, it’s just what we’re up against.

MUERER:  Laura, I’ve been on this kick all week about the overreach of government.  And I’m beginning to think that there is not a sector of government that doesn’t think they’re above everybody else.

WOODS:  Yeah, that probably a good assessment, right now.  We’re in a spot in our country where, at the federal level, they have taken away a bunch of states’ rights and virtually all citizens rights.   And it filters down through every one of their agencies, and then at the state level, too, you know, you’ve just got – this is an absolute abuse of power by law enforcement because they don’t have to prove a crime.  They don’t even have to charge a crime.  [incredulously] They can just they can just take your stuff?  Seriously?

MUERER:  I just – this is supposed to be America!  You know, I cannot wrap my mind around that.  I’ve watched specials – The Blaze has run some great specials on this asset forfeiture things – where you see people running legitimate grocery stores.  The IRS is a large cash deposit. They come in there and they sweep the entire account! They don’t just take the cash.  They sweep the entire account, to where the person has no operating capital, whatsoever.  And then they’ve got to hire lawyers and try to get this back.  And there’s never any charges filed against them.  They don’t know who they’re supposed to go and complain to.  They don’t know how to get their assets back.

WOODS:  Well, and the problem is –

MUERER:  This thing is just a nightmare!

WOODS:  Oh, yeah.  It is.  And the problem is, the asset becomes a defendant in a civil case.  So the individual will be charged with a criminal crime and go to criminal court and they can get a public defender.  But your asset– it becomes the United States of America versus a 1999 Toyota RAV.  Or, you know, whatever.  Or an address, or a thousand dollars.

MUERER:  So, I want to know, how do they get that car into the courtroom.  Do they – you know, how does it swear on the Bible? […] How do you do that?

WOODS:  I tell you, it’s interesting.  And then you have to hire a private attorney to go to civil court – in federal court, if it’s a federal case – and you have to pay that attorney by the hour to get your asset back, or to try to get your asset back.  And often — so Maureen Cain is a Denver attorney who works on the right side of this issue for people who’ve been wrongly charged.  And there was a grandmother whose son – here is a story that will shock you.  A grandmother, whose grandson was living in her house, and he was there for about 90 days, I think.  And for 30 of those days he was dealing drugs out of the house.  And she didn’t know it.  He was just living there, but doing this bad thing.  The law enforcement swooped in and took her house.  And Maureen Kane had had to donate her time for a year to fight on behalf of Grandma to get the house back from the court on a charge that went against her grandson, but not against her.

MUERER:  Unbelievable!

WOODS:  Yeah, if it hadn’t been –.

MUERER:  I’m just shaking my head.  I’m having a hard time comprehending what I’m hearing because it just seems so ludicrous.

WOODS:  I know.  If Maureen hadn’t been so willing to donate her time, then that that poor lady would have lost her home.  You know?  So, it is really a shocking reality in America right now, and it’s all flowing out of the US Department of Justice.   Loretta Lynch was the asset forfeiture Queen for that agency before she became the director of that agency.  And she is not going to roll back asset forfeiture or equitable sharing at all because they make they make a lot of money off the back of innocent citizens.

MUERER:  Oh, this is—this is just insane!


[commercial break]


MUERER:  And, uh, Laura […] it doesn’t seem like the government – or even people supposedly on our side –want to do a whole lot to stop this because it seems to me like they really like being able to steal our money.

WOODS:  That’s true.  Rand Paul usually runs a bill in Congress to try to stop it.   It goes nowhere in Congress.  My bills have gone nowhere – yet — in Colorado.  There’ll be another attempt next year, I believe, and it –.  But, you’re right!  We’re fighting a machine and a lot of law-enforcement agencies have started to use it as an income stream right into their budget.  You know?  And you look at the amounts that some of these agencies have –some of them are sitting on $1 million-plus, in Colorado, of asset funds that they had seized.  And yeah, some of them probably are from legitimate crime, but others, I have no doubt, are –.

MUERER:  Well, they just — as far as I’m concerned, Laura, they should just not be able to arbitrarily just go in there and just steal an asset because you have it.

WOODS:  [With] due process, they can’t.

MUERER:  Yeah, due process –.  And you know, the other thing that just makes me think of, you know – I ran the Michael Bailey spot earlier about estate planning, and making sure you have your estate in order.  I mean, to me it seems like these are the same people that could be in charge of your estate, that if you were to die unexpectedly, and then you don’t have a will, and all of a sudden you get the government – you’ve got these same kind of people controlling your estate.

WOODS:  Yeah, um, I think the industry probably that’s at the most risk in Colorado is the pot industry.  They are a completely cash industry.  They pay their employees in cash.  All of their sales are in cash because they cannot bank.   Right?

MUERER:  Right.

WOODS:  And so, they are at risk every time an employee leaves their shop with their paycheck, or perhaps the weekly money that they have to take to the safe – wherever they keep the safe.  You know, there are people that are carrying–I’m assuming– large amounts of cash in the pot industry.  There was another guy from Boulder County who was — he was dealing in Bitcoins.  And I don’t know too much about Bitcoins, but the computer nerds that I know say they are sort of like engineer money online.  And so they – you know, it’s currency that they use online.

MUERER:  Right, that’s exactly what it is:  online currency.

WOODS:  Right?

MUERER:  That’s a great way to describe it.  Absolutely.

WOODS:  And so this guy was dealing in a Bitcoins, and he had a wife and child, and he lived in Boulder County and had lots of contact with law enforcement at the local diner.  They would see him in there on Saturday mornings for breakfast, or Sunday mornings for breakfast.  And they weren’t living off the grid and hiding.  And one morning they woke up and had several agencies surrounding their home with weapons drawn and they were going after his income, his assets, because of his Bitcoin work.  They took all of their — all the cash they could find in the house, all their computers, all their cell phones, and that kind of thing.  But they even took his — I think she was 6 — 6-year-old daughter’s little envelope of money in her room that she had put her grandmother’s birthday and Christmas present money in, or whatever she had – you know, chore money, or however she had earned that money.  She had a little zippered plastic zipper envelope in her room with her money in it, and they even took that!

MUERER:  Unbelievable!   This is absolutely horrifying!  This has got to be stopped.  Wally, you’re on Rush to Reason.  Welcome to the show!

CALLER WALLY:  I think we need to outlaw cash. That will solve the problem.

MUERER:  [laughs]  I don’t want all that cash.  I want all of these knuckleheads.  I like cash.

CALLER WALLY:  I mean, I occasionally travel to buy a car and I usually take cash to pay for it.  I’m assuming that I should not do that anymore.

WOODS:  My advice to you would be, if you’re ever asked if you have cash on you, just say ‘no’ and don’t admit that you do.

CALLER WALLY:  Then why would they be entitled to ask you a question like that, anyhow?  I mean, law enforcement.  It’s just – you know, I’ve always wanted to be compliant with law enforcement, but if I ever get stopped and they ask to search me, this is just going to make me want to say ‘no’.  You know?  You’re going to have to get a search warrant and have a reason why.

WOODS:  Yeah.  I think –.

MUERER:  Wally, do you have Kevin Fleish’s number handy?

WOODS:  [laughs]

CALLER WALLY:  I might keep it there.

MUERER:  That’s a good place


WOODS:  I think the safest thing to do is say, “I don’t answer questions.  I don’t answer questions.  I don’t answer questions,” when you’re pulled over, because you know, there — their goal is to just seem friendly, seem casual, ask you the question, and people answer.  And boom!  They’ve lost their stuff before they even realized what was going on.  So, you just simply state, “I – I don’t answer questions.”  And, um –.

MUERER:  No, that’s – I think that’s the same advice that Kevin Fleish would give you, too. And, um, that’s a good – I mean, that’s a great question.  Wally, I would just – just give him a call and just ask him that:  “Hey, you know, I like to buy cars.  I like to pay cash.  If I get stopped, do I have to admit that I have the cash on me, at that point?”  And I would get his advice on that.

CALLER WALLY:  Yeah, I mean, I guess if you’re going through airport security, you know, you’re supposed to empty all of your pockets and everything. What are they going to do if they see $10,000 in cash that you’re going to buy a car.  I guess if they see that, you’re just going to be screwed.

WOODS:  Mm-hmm.


WOODS:  Yeah.  Anybody who has have their stuff seized is just exactly that – screwed—because it’s impossible to get it back.  And they hold it over your head, “Well, you know, we don’t have to file charges against you, if you just want to forfeit the money and walk away from it.”  And it’s basically highway robbery  out there on the side of the road, if that’s where they stop you, or in the airport, or wherever.

MUERER:  You know what?  That’s exactly what it is – highway robbery.  Wally, man, thanks for the call.  I really appreciate it.  Susan, you’re up next!  Welcome to Rush to Reason.  How are you doing?

CALLER SUSAN:  I wanted to ask the Senator, so, Obama has had years to get this going.  Maybe it was bad before, but I suspect that it has just gotten really bad under his administration.  So if we would have, possibly, a Trump victory, will this change the Department of Justice, because the President sets who the Attorney General is?

WOODS:  You know, I think that’s a really great point. And I cannot imagine a Donald Trump president keeping any of the heads of any of the departments under the federal government right now — Loretta Lynch included — I can’t imagine he wouldn’t let heads roll over this policy as well as a lot of others.  And so, you’ve brought up a really good point.

MUERER:  Yeah.

CALLER SUSAN:  Well, I think that’s the way to nip it.  I mean, if there is anything we can do, man, this is very important.

MUERER”  Yep. No, you’re absolutely right, Susan.  And thank you so much for the call.  […]

[commercial break]

MUERER:  […] Craig, welcome to the program.  You’re up next.  How are you doing this afternoon?

CALLER CRAIG:  Pretty good.  Thank you, Ms. Woods, for going up against – having been kind of a champion of thankless causes, because I know what you did in some of the probate court abuses – put you in front of some pretty large adversaries, I’m sure, with kind of a diffuse amount of support.

WOODS:  Yes, you’re right.

CALLER CRAIG:  Anyway, sometimes I admire the NRA because they’re pretty bipartisan and single-minded.  Sometimes it’s frustrating to see them supporting a Democrat in the interest of that person is against the restriction rights.  But maybe there needs to be some push —  they’d need it nationwide, in long run –from a group that is not going to garner that much – many — contributions for their effort, but to go after the leadership of any law enforcement group that would use these kind of tactics.

MUERER:  Great, great, great question, Laura.  What do you think of it? Thanks, Craig, for the call, by the way.

WOODS:  I think that we need the data.  And that’s why I was going to run the reporting bill, so we really know what’s going on in Colorado.  They would come into the hearings or to our meetings — our stakeholder meetings, law enforcement would – and they would say this isn’t happening in Colorado.  And I could point to the South Dakota, North Dakota couple that was picked up in Parker lost their cash.  I could point to the guy from Boulder. I could point to the grandmother’s house.  I could point to some specifics, and they would say, “Well, it doesn’t happen in my district.”  And that was the reason for running the reporting bill.  I’m working with the Institute for Justice on this topic and they are excellent on this topic.  And they said they’ve had the same problem across the country of getting defense lawyers to come and testify in the hearings of this happening in their communities, and them having to fight on behalf of citizens.  And the Institute for justice said, “We don’t know if they’re being paid to stay out of the committee hearings, or why they’re not coming in to testify.”  So that that’s why we were doing the reporting bill first, to try to just get our minds wrapped around it.  And like I said, there are some agencies in Colorado that I don’t think abuse it at all.  And there are others — like Denver — that I think are horrific in in abusing it.  Tom Martino has talked about this on his program numerous times.  And so – so, yeah!  When we — if we got the reporting bill passed and we had the sunshine shown on this practice across the country, we would know which agencies within Colorado are abusive and taking stuff from innocent people, and which are actually using it as the tool intended to be used.

MUERER:  Yeah, as intended. Paula, you’re up next.  Welcome to Rush to Reason.


MUERER:  Hi, Paula. Welcome to Rush to Reason.  How are you?

CALLER PAULA:  Thank you, I’m fine.  You know, this is such an incredible topic.  And kudos to the Senator for this kind of work –you know, working on behalf of citizens.  You know, here’s my question:  I’m wondering — and have you, first of all – has anyone talked to Judicial Watch, at all?  Because they are a watchdog group that jumps on everything.

WOODS:  No, I haven’t–.

MUERER:  That’s a good question.

WOODS:  Yeah, and I reached out to Judicial Watch at all.  But it’s something that I will make a note about when we get back into it.  I first had to get reelected in November and then, if I’m lucky enough to do that, I will take up this issue again and [inaudible]

MUERER:  And Laura, how can people donate to your campaign?

WOODS:  At we have a secure donation page on that website.

CALLER PAULA:  I have a question.

MUERER: Sure, go ahead.

CALLER PAULA:  I live in downtown Denver.  Are you – am I in your district?

WOODS:  No, ma’am.  My district is out in Arvada and Westminster.

MUERER:  But you can still help!  The money crosses district lines, and so do volunteers.  So, Paula, anything you can do to help — we need fighters like Laura in office, so anything you can do to help would be much appreciated.

CALLER PAULA:  I have one more quick question.  I wonder how often this happens to people who are coming down from Black Hawk or Central City.

WOODS:  Mmmm. I haven’t heard of any specific accounts.  But if we had the reporting bill, so that they would have to tell us what they’re collecting, and from whom, and for what charges, we would have all that information.  So that’s another group that’s probably susceptible — if anybody really wins money in Central City.  Do they win money up there?

MUERER:  Every once in a great while, just so people keep coming back.

WOODS:  [laughs] [It’s] just me who doesn’t!

CALLER PAULA:  [inaudible] x amount, and the [inaudible] with it.  So, you know, not everybody wins. I’m just saying, that they would [be] a targeted group.

WOODS:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah, if they’re coming out of there with cash, they’re targeted.  Anybody with cash.

MUERER:  Yeah, anybody with cash.  Paula, great call!  Thank you for the call.  Mike, in Brighton, we need you to hang on.  I’ve got to take one more break here […]

[commercial break]

MUERER:  And welcome back, everybody, to Rush to Reason.  Dan Muerer, in for the vacationing John Rush.  And on the phone I have State Senator Laura Woods.  And we’re talking about civil asset forfeiture.  And Mike from Brighton, you’re up next.  Welcome to the program.

CALLER MIKE:  Hey, how are you doing, Laura?

WOODS:  Good, Mike.

CALLER MIKE:  Yeah, I’ve got a question.  You know, I  — I mean, this sounds really corrupt, but, I mean, what if I’m just driving my truck or my Harley that I just bought two months ago – brand new – down the street and a cop asks me for my license.  I pull my license out and he sees the money in my wallet, and wants to do a drug test on that, and says that. Can he seize my bike or my truck?

WOODS:  Yes.  They can

CALLER MIKE:   So, basically, these guys are–

MUERER:  Really?  God! [laughs incredulously]

CALLER MIKE:  Ok, so, Laura, these guys are no different than the Bloods and the Crips that they’re constantly whining and crying about down in downtown Denver or Colorado Springs, or up in [Fort] Collins.  I mean, how is law enforcement different from the people they’re fighting?  I mean, if they can just take your stuff for no reason.

WOODS:  When –.  Yeah, when they are taking stuff from innocent people with no conviction or no charges filed, they are no different.


WOODS:  Yeah.

CALLER MIKE:  Now, why are the Republicans on the wrong side of this?  Why are they on the side of the Bloods and the Crips, and the Crips wear a badge?

WOODS:  Well, I don’t think the Republicans are on the wrong side of this.  I had two on a committee that killed the bill, one on that committee that voted for it.  And the law enforcement’s argument of “we need this money to fight human trafficking” sucked in one of the Democrats to vote with law enforcement against the bill, the first year I ran it.  And so, you know, they’re – it pulls at the heart strings of everybody, when you come to the Capitol and you say, “We can’t fight human trafficking if we don’t get this money.”  And–.

CALLER MIKE:  See, I agree with you, 100%.  Human trafficking is disgusting.  But stealing!

WOODS:  Yes! [laughs]

MUERER:  Yeah! You guys –.

CALLER MIKE:  [inaudible] citizens to fight it.  I’m sorry, maybe I’ll send them a check for $50 bucks –.

MUERER:  Right?

CALLER MIKE:  But I’m not going to let them have my stuff!

MUERER:  No, I’m just sitting here, thinking –.

CALLER MIKE:  This is garbage!

MUERER:  Mike, Laura – I’m just sitting here thinking to myself, “I’ve got to feed my kids, so I’m going to go steal from Charlie so I can feed my kids.”  And that justifies it.

WOODS:  Yeah, I know.

MUERER:  I don’t get it!

WOODS:  I know.

CALLER MIKE:  Yeah, I wish I lived a few miles west of where I’m at now, because I’d definitely be voting for you.

WOODS:  Why, thank you!

MUERER:  Well, you can still help her out, Mike.  You can still help her out.

WOODS:  [laughs] Thanks, Mike!

CALLER MIKE:  Anyway, you guys have a nice day.  I’m sure there’s other people who would like to talk to you about the legalized theft, if you’re in Colorado and the rest of America.

WOODS:  You have a great day, too.

MUERER:  Yeah.  Thanks, Mike!  Yeah, it is legalized theft.  And lines are open, 303-477-5600.  And, uh, you know, Laura, this is a huge problem. And, uh – but it’s one that is really under the radar.  Unless it really happens to you, for some reason it doesn’t get reported widely. And I don’t know why.  But, other – you know, like the story in Parker – when did this happen that – how did this happen?  How did someone going through Parker, Colorado end up being a victim of this?

WOODS:  In Parker, this was a couple who had left South Dakota with some lawsuit proceeds that they – it was a legitimate lawsuit in South Dakota.  Their lawyer back in South Dakota confirmed that they had received this much cash.  They were going on a trip, and they didn’t want to leave the cash at home.  You know, the other problem on this is that we live in an increasingly unbanked era.  So, lots of people don’t trust the banks.  They don’t put their money in banks.  And these people don’t bank, and they brought – so, they stuffed the money in a sock, and put it in their suitcase.  And going through Parker, they got stopped and I think the law enforcement officer saw some pot paraphernalia in the car, if I remember it.  This was in December of 2015 – or ’14, right before my first session started.

MUERER:  Okay.

WOODS:  And they asked them if they had any money, and –.  No, they asked them if they could search the car.  That’s what it was.  They asked if they could search the car.  And the guy had nothing to hide.  And he said, “Sure.”  And so, going through the trunk, they find the cash in a sock and they take it.  Now, I bring that issue up in a committee hearing or in a stakeholders’ meeting and everyone says, “Oh, you know, that was a different story than what you were told.  That isn’t what happened there!”   But they don’t really come out and say what happened there.

MUERER:  Oh!  They just say, “That’s not what happened, but we’re not going to tell you what did happen.”

WOODS:  Well, they ended up giving the money back, I think, because it hit the papers and they got a little bad press.  And they ended up giving the money back to that couple.  But that’s not the norm.

MUERER:  Which agency was it that pulled the couple over?

WOODS:  Oh, it was Parker PD, I believe.

MUERER:  Parker PD. Interesting.

WOODS:  I believe so.  Yeah.

MUERER:  Hmm.  Very, very interesting.  Okay, Laura, so if people want to help out your campaign – and there is more than just money.  You can probably use volunteers – people, maybe, to help you knock on doors or fold fliers, or something, right?

WOODS:  Yep, absolutely.  Absolutely. And they can volunteer and/or donate through my website:  And we would love to have anybody who wants to come out and knock on doors with us. We do that every day but Sunday and holidays.  I don’t do it on holidays.  So, when it’s dry weather, then we knock on doors.  And it may be a little while before we get back to that, but if anybody would like to help they can certainly sign up to volunteer through that website.

MUERER:  Laura, I really, really appreciate you coming on with me this afternoon.  And good luck with the campaign.  And, just best of luck to you!  Thanks again for coming on!

WOODS:  Thank you very much, and happy Memorial Day!

[commercial break]

MUERER:  […]  Well, you sure can get one if you’re the police department and you pull someone over and you’re going, “Hey, you know what?  You must have come across this Chevy illegally.”  Or, “You must be into some bad news.  I’ll tell you what: To keep us from arresting you, we’re just going to confiscate your Chevy.  That’s what we’re going to do.  We’re just going to confiscate your Chevy, and whatever cash –.  Oh! Does your daughter have an envelope full of money that maybe she earned by selling Girl Scout cookies, or something?  You know, that could be drug money, so we better confiscate that.”  This is an absolute Outrage! This is a crime being perpetrated on us by law enforcement.  This is a shakedown.  This is thuggery!  This has got to stop.  This has got to stop from all levels of the government – from the IRS seizing people’s assets because they deal in cash.  And I don’t care about pot shops, or whatever.  I’m really concerned about the Mom-and-Pop grocery store, the liquor store, the – and even the pot shop.  They shouldn’t be allowed to take your assets that you’ve legally obtained!  And if you’ve obtained them illegally, you should have to go through due process.  You’re still innocent until proven guilty.  At least, you’re supposed to be!  Have we just – have we really just, as a country, have we just taken our Constitution and just run it through the paper shredder?   I feel like we have.  […]