Sen. Paul Holds Hearing on Government Assault on Private Property
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today hosted a roundtable discussion, "PROPERTY WRONGS: A Discussion With the Victims of the U.S. Government's Assault on Private Property," to bring to light a few of many instances of overreach by the U.S. government, Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, and others. He was joined by Members of both the House and Senate, including Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Reps. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.), to deliver questions and comments to the attending witnesses.
Sen. Paul plans to introduce legislation in the coming days addressing the issues brought forth in today's hearing.
Witnesses included Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitars; Mike and Chantell Sackett of Idaho, whose current battle with the EPA is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court this winter; Victoria Pozsgai-Khoury of Pennsylvania, who was representing her father's continuing battle with EPA over erroneous wetland regulations; Peter Nimrod, chief engineer of the Mississippi Levee Board, currently suing EPA to allow for a pumping station in the Mississippi Delta region; and John and Judy Dollarhite of Missouri, rabbit breeders whose side business was shut down and fined exorbitantly by the USDA.
Below is the text of Sen. Paul's opening remarks. Video of the event will be available at www.paul.senate.gov later this week.
TRANSCRIPT OF SEN. PAUL'S OPENING REMARKS:
When I was elected last year, I proclaimed that I had a message, a message that we've come to take our government back. Since then, many have asked, "You've come to take back your government, but from whom?"
The answer is quite simple, we wish to take our government back from the unelected bureaucrats who are trampling our rights and invading our businesses.
In fact, the Declaration of Independence sums up our frustration well when our founders complained of the King,
"He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."
At every turn businessmen and women are harassed by their government. Be it OSHA, the IRS, or the EPA. Property owners are beleaguered by the Army Corps of Engineers taking their property through absurd interpretations of what constitutes a wetland.
A woman and her father in Mississippi were sentenced to 10 years in prison for putting dirt on a low area of a residential development. A man in Michigan was given three years in prison for moving dirt on his own land because the government decreed it a wetland.
32 Federal agencies are now armed. The Department of Agriculture now has SWAT teams that have been involved with raiding organic food stores that sell raw milk and private citizens selling bunnies have been tormented with outrageous fines.
The Fish and Wildlife Department also has armed agents. They have swooped in to harass and shut down American businesses that violate foreign laws. That's right: We now have armed agents enforcing foreign laws on American soil.
It is a disgrace and must end.
Today, we've gathered together folks who have been abused by their government. Government has not only harassed and aggravated these folks but actually put some of them in jail. Hopefully, after hearing these tragic stories, we can agree to take our government back from the unelected bureaucrats and return lawmaking to the halls of Congress.
Today you will hear stories that will chill you to the marrow. One man escaped from Communism in Hungary only to be thrown into jail in America when he cleaned up an illegal dump on land the government called wetland.
A proud American owned business, an icon in the guitar industry is invaded by armed agents and threatened with violating foreign laws.
Even Local government has come to fear the EPA. We will hear how the EPA is obstructing flood control work by the Mississippi Levee Board. In my state alone, the EPA is hampering the building of sewage treatment plants and river walks. My biggest surprise as we've investigated government abuse is that agencies, like the EPA, obstruct other government projects. It isn't just property owners who fear the EPA. It isn't just industry that despises the EPA. Even local government sees the regulatory overreach that hampers local government projects.
So, I do have a message to bureaucrats high and low: This is America and the Constitution grants law-making to Congress and Congress alone. Yes, we've come to take our government back. We've come to seek justice for businesses and property owners. And above all else we've come to proclaim that we are a nation of laws not a nation of bureaucratic edicts.
I defy anyone to listen to the following testimony and not be angered and dismayed at what we've let government become. So, let us hear from those who have suffered at the hands of their government.