Several days ago, we wrote about how Attorney General candidate Patrick Miles has flip-flopped on a number of issues: Medical marijuana, LGBTQ rights, marijuana legalization, capital punishment, and most recently civil asset forfeiture. To us, these numerous policy shifts seemed more like political expediency than genuine “evolutions” of thought. (We’re still hoping to learn why, in his congressional run, he opposed “Cap and Trade” and supported federal funding for charter schools)
This whole discussion was sparked by a Michigan Radio interview with Lester Graham where Miles changed his position on civil asset forfeiture during the course of the interview. First, he was in support of civil asset forfeiture. Then he changed his stance after being pressed during the interview.
Civil asset forfeiture is the procedure police use to seize assets of people before they have been charged with a crime. Without due process, in other words. Just in 2016 alone, over 500 people in Michigan had assets seized by police without ever being charged. In many cases, forfeiture has derailed or destroyed the lines of many innocent people in Michigan and across the country. Those who have their assets seized have to hire a lawyer to get their stuff back. But that can be difficult to do when the police have frozen your bank account and taken everything.
As of yesterday, the Patrick Miles’ campaign had already re-reversed its position and supports civil asset forfeiture again. In a statement to the Metro Times, Miles’ campaign spokesperson said this about asset forfeiture and the Michigan Radio interview:
“There are a certain number of narrow cases where it’s necessary, and that’s what Pat was referring to in his initial answer…As the interview went on, Pat continued to think about the issue and the fact that the general public isn’t focused on those narrow issues. It’s a very complex legal and law enforcement issue and it’s difficult to digest in a two-minute radio clip.”
Here are the facts.
At the end of his interview with Michigan Radio (link here), Miles took a strong position against asset forfeiture. In his conversation with Lester Graham, he said:
Patrick Miles “Well, I would say that on asset forfeiture, that we should make sure that there’s due process before people’s assets are taken and that in all cases that law enforcement is not allowed to unilaterally seize assets rather than freeze assets.”
Lester Graham: “That’s a little different from what you were saying before.”
Patrick Miles: “It is.”
Lester Graham: “This is your position?”
Patrick Miles: “That’s my position.”
This seems to be a clear stance against asset forfeiture. But now that position has changed again. The Miles campaign says the nuances of this issue are difficult for voters to understand, but what’s actually difficult to understand is the position of Patrick Miles on civil asset forfeiture. Does due process matter or not?
So which is it Patrick Miles?