AUSTIN, Texas – State Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen says he doesn’t pay much attention to what President Trump says anymore.
Hinojosa said so in a statement released in response to a quip from Trump about destroying the career of a state senator from Texas.
Trump did not mention which senator but the quip was made in reference to an unnamed state senator from Texas who has filed legislation to eliminate civil asset forfeiture before conviction. Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County had complained about an unnamed senator that was working on such legislation.
Hinojosa, a Democrat, is one of two senators known to be working on protecting the rights of people and property. The other is state Sen. Konni Burton, a Republican from Fort Worth.
“I do not know and have not met with Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County. And quite frankly, I don’t pay much attention to what President Trump says anymore. However, the asset forfeiture bills I have authored and co-authored will not interfere with our law enforcement agencies’ ability to do their jobs,” Hinojosa said.
“Instead, these bills are an important protection for Texans’ property rights and civil liberties. I have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and Texas and intend to do just that by protecting the rights of people and property.”
Eavenson was among a group of law enforcement officials from across the country who met with Trump, Vice President Pence and several senior staff members at the White House on Tuesday.
Here is a transcript of the exchange made between Trump and Eavenson in the White House on Tuesday:
Eavenson: “On asset forfeiture, we’ve got a state senator in Texas who was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture.”
Trump: “Can you believe that?”
Eavenson: “I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.”
Trump: “What’s his name? Want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”
There was laughter in the room when Trump said this. Eavenson declined to name the senator. A press officer for Trump said later that Trump was joking.
Currently, police and sheriff’s departments can seize cash and property from people who haven’t been convicted of a crime. They can even seize cash and property from people who have not been charged with a crime.
Legislation to overhaul or eliminate civil asset forfeiture has been a non-partisan issue in recent years, with both the Republican and Democratic party platforms including such measures. Such legislation has been authored in more than a dozen states.
Sen. Hinojosa represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and part of Hidalgo. He served as the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate in the 84th Texas Legislature. Hinojosa currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and serves on the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development; Transportation; Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs as well as the Sunset Advisory Commission.