Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) today sent oversight letters to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and to the Acting Director of the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, requesting information on each agency’s participation in the Department of Justice’s asset forfeiture program, specifically their processes for administrative review of property seizures.  The letters request answers to the following questions:

• How many petitions does the DEA/ICE receive for the administrative pardon of property?
• How many petitions for the administrative pardon of property are granted?
• How many petitions does the DEA/ICE receive from individuals (as oppose to business or financial institutions) for the administrative pardon of property?
• How many of the petitions from individuals are granted?
• Please describe the methodology and procedures used by DEA/ICE to adjudicate civil forfeitures.
• Allowing attorneys for DEA/ICE to adjudicate the conduct of its own agents to determine whether money should flow directly to the coffers of DEA/ICE would seem to present inherent conflicts of interests.  DEA/ICE leadership will have an interest in seeing the petitions denied because it increases their budget.  Meanwhile, agents will see denials as a condemnation of their conduct in the field.  Given these inherent conflicts, what procedures and protections exist to ensure fair adjudications of the claims and to protect against conflicts of interests?