Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Capitol Hill

     It was a brisk, overcast day in Washington, D.C. and I spent it hiking from building to building with John Stacks, owner of Mountain Pure Water (raided at gunpoint in the same manner as my clinic) to meet with senators, House representatives and their staffers and legislative assistants to call attention to the increasingly common story of heavy-handed FBI raids for alleged white-collar crimes.
     The highlight of the day was a meeting with Robert Goodlatte, a Virginia congressman who holds a very influential position as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.  Together with Arkansas Representative Tim Griffin and his staffer, Peter Comstack, we were encouraged to believe that the problem of FBI overreach is serious enough to bring to the attention of Congress as a whole.  Representative Goodlatte said, "This is a bipartisan issue.  There are Democrats and Republicans on my judiciary committee, and they agree that this problem is affecting their constituents and American businesses in a deleterious way.  I plan to request a House hearing on this matter."  I don't think we could have asked for a more positive response from anyone.
     We also met with Senator Pryor and his Chief of Staff, Andy York.  They listened carefully to my story, expressing disbelief that nearly two years after the raid on my clinic I can't say why the FBI took such drastic action, because the affidavits supporting the warrants remain sealed.  Some of the representatives and many of the staffers watched Rampant InJustice, the youtube reenactment of the Mountain Pure Water raid, expressing alarm at the manner in which civilians and business owners are being treated.
     Since October 2012, "Rampant InJustice" has had one million views.  John Stacks says nearly a thousand people have reported similar raids on their places of business, but 97% tell him they don't want their names or stories revealed for fear of government retaliation.  Hence, John and I, along with Midamor Meatpacking, Gibson Guitar, and Duncan Outdoor Equipment are acting as ambassadors for many victims of these senseless attacks by government agents, and hope to instigate changes in Department of Justice policies.
     Congress may be held responsible for empowering the Department of Justice to conduct such raids, by passing the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in 1970.  Wikipedia states, "While its original use in the 1970's was to prosecute the Mafia, as well as others who were actively engaged in organized crime, its later application has been more widespread."  (No kidding.)  Eric Holder urged government police to crack down on crime, employing RICO as a justification for SWAT-style raids that were meant, originally, to protect FBI agents in the dangerous arenas of organized crime and drug trafficking, but are now used in peaceable businesses such as medical clinics, water bottling plants, guitar factories and meatpacking operations.
     Therefore, it will have to be Congress that sets limits on the Department of Justice and all its agents, down to the local FBI bullies who thought it was in their purview to pull guns on a medical assistant, a cancer patient in the middle of having her blood drawn, people packaging water bottles on a factory floor, artisans making guitars, and so on.  The Judiciary Committees in the Senate and House have ranking authority over the Department of Justice, and can call for limits on the use of judicial power, and accountability.  This will not be a hurried process, especially if changes in legislation are required.  I, for one, am willing to testify in front of Congress about what happened in my medical clinic, and so are the other plaintiffs in our class-action-style lawsuit.  Perhaps it will come to this.
     In addition to meetings with the Congressmen above, we also gave reports of the DOJ actions against us to staffers for the following Congresspeople:  Senator Marco Rubio (FL), Senator Bill Nelson (FL), Senator John Boozman (, Senator Tim Griffin (AK), Senator John Cornyn (TX) (who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee), Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) (Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee), and Representative Gregg Harper (MS).  We were received with such intelligence, seriousness and cordiality that my faith in our government was raised many notches.
     Tomorrow we meet with Representative Ted Yoho (FL), and staffers for Senator Thad Cochran (MS), Senator Chuck Grassley (IA), and Representative Corrine Brown (FL).
     Then we get on airplanes and head for home.  Next month, we plan a repeat performance with other business owners in our group lawsuit, because one thing is clear:  congressmen need to hear from constituents again and again, if they're going to take action.

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