State Representative Jason Villalba Files Bill Requiring Greater Transparency on Use of Asset Forfeiture Funds

March 2, 2015

Today, State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) announced that he has filed House Bill 2116, legislation that would limit the use of asset forfeiture funds and require expenses satisfied with asset forfeiture funds to be published publicly on a regular basis.

“It’s critical that we effectively utilize every resource available in the fight against crime,” Representative Jason Villalba said. “As currently written, the statute regarding the use of asset forfeiture funds is vague and has opened the door to abuse – and we need to make sure that door is shut and locked,” Villalba continued.

The Villalba asset forfeiture bill was filed in the wake of instances of purported fund abuse by a former Dallas County District Attorney, who used asset forfeiture funds to pay for personal legal settlement expenses.

If passed, Villalba’s bill will restrict the uses of the asset forfeiture fund to certain enumerated public law enforcement purposes, awareness, education expenses or equipment that supports law enforcement. The bill explicitly prohibits using the funds for personal, non-public, use and the law would require that expenses satisfied with asset forfeiture funds must be publically published on a quarterly basis.

“While this law is primarily about strengthening public safety, it’s also about trust and transparency. We must ensure that our citizens have confidence that their interests are being protected and that our law enforcement agencies are honest and open. It’s my hope that this bill will close any loopholes that may allow abuse and will build public trust that our public funds are being used in a manner that puts communities and our citizens first,” Villalba said.

Representative Jason Villalba represents Lake Highlands, Preston Hollow and North West Dallas in the Texas House of Representatives. Rep. Villalba, a graduate of Baylor University and the University of Texas School of Law, was first elected to House District 114 in November of 2012. He is a proud, fourth generation Texan and the first in his family to attend college. Prior to attending law school, Rep. Villalba held the positions of financial analyst and economist for a Fortune 500 Company located in Dallas.