A-53335, DECEMBER 27, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 487

A-53335: Dec 27, 1934

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE AN AUTOMOBILE FORFEITED UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS AND TURNED OVER TO THE BUREAU OF NARCOTICS FOR USE IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE NARCOTICS LAWS. APPROPRIATION "SUPPRESSING COUNTERFEITING AND OTHER CRIMES" IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF ADVERTISING FOR SALE AN AUTOMOBILE SEIZED FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS. WHICH WAS SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT UNDER THE APPROPRIATION "SUPPRESSING COUNTERFEITING AND OTHER CRIMES.'. YOU STATE THAT THE AUTOMOBILE INVOLVED HEREIN WAS SEIZED AND CONFISCATED BY THE BUREAU OF NARCOTICS. THAT THE AFORESAID OPINION WAS INCORPORATED IN THE REPORT OF THE HEARING ON TREASURY DEPARTMENT BILL FOR 1931.

A-53335, DECEMBER 27, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 487

VEHICLES - SEIZED AUTOMOBILES - USE BY FEDERAL AGENCIES SECRET SERVICE DIVISION, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE AN AUTOMOBILE FORFEITED UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS AND TURNED OVER TO THE BUREAU OF NARCOTICS FOR USE IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE NARCOTICS LAWS. APPROPRIATION "SUPPRESSING COUNTERFEITING AND OTHER CRIMES" IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF ADVERTISING FOR SALE AN AUTOMOBILE SEIZED FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS, ORDERED FORFEITED AND TURNED OVER TO THE NARCOTIC SERVICE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, DECEMBER 27, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 14, 1934, IN REPLY TO MY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 12, 1934, RELATIVE TO THE CLAIM OF THE SAN ANTONIO LIGHT PUBLISHING CO., SAN ANTONIO, TEX., FOR $7.14, FOR ADVERTISING ON APRIL 18 AND 25, AND MAY 2, 1931, IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEIZURE OF ONE FORD PHAETON AUTOMOBILE, 1930 MODEL, ENGINE NO. A 3998325,WHICH WAS SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE BY THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT UNDER THE APPROPRIATION "SUPPRESSING COUNTERFEITING AND OTHER CRIMES.'

YOU STATE THAT THE AUTOMOBILE INVOLVED HEREIN WAS SEIZED AND CONFISCATED BY THE BUREAU OF NARCOTICS, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, DECLARED SURPLUS BY THAT BUREAU, AND TRANSFERRED TO THE SECRET SERVICE A FEW DAYS AFTER IT HAD BEEN TURNED OVER TO THE BUREAU OF NARCOTICS BY ORDER OF THE COURT, AND YOU MAKE REFERENCE TO THE OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF JULY 9, 1927, 35 OP.A.G. 245, AS YOUR AUTHORITY FOR AUTHORIZING THE TRANSFER OF THE VEHICLE IN QUESTION FROM THE ONE SERVICE TO THE OTHER SERVICE. YOU STATE, ALSO, THAT THE AFORESAID OPINION WAS INCORPORATED IN THE REPORT OF THE HEARING ON TREASURY DEPARTMENT BILL FOR 1931, AT PAGE 467, AND

THIS OPINION FORMED THE BASIS OF THE AUTHORITY INCORPORATED IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1931 FOR THE "SUPPRESSION OF COUNTERFEITING AND OTHER CRIMES," WHICH SUSTAINS THE FIELD OPERATIONS OF THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION FOR THE MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION OF AUTOMOBILES USED BY THAT DIVISION ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AND DETERMINED THE RIGHT OF THE SECRET SERVICE TO OBTAIN FROM OTHER GOVERNMENT BUREAUS SURPLUS AUTOMOBILES AND USE THEM FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES.

THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, 43 STAT. 1116, PROVIDES IN SECTION 1 THEREOF---

* * * ANY VESSEL OR VEHICLE SUMMARILY FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS, MAY, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, * * * BE TAKEN AND USED FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT, * * *

AND IN SECTION 2 THEREOF---

THAT UPON APPLICATION THEREFOR BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY ANY VESSEL OR VEHICLE FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES BY A DECREE OF ANY COURT FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT MAY BE ORDERED BY THE COURT TO BE DELIVERED TO THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT FOR USE IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT, * *

SECTION 3 OF SAID ACT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES---

THAT ANY VESSEL OR VEHICLE ACQUIRED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 OR 2 OF THIS ACT SHALL BE UTILIZED ONLY FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT. * * *

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

IN THE TREASURY APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1931 TO 1935, INCLUSIVE, THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION WAS AUTHORIZED TO EXPEND MONEY FOR THE "HIRE, MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION OF MOTOR PROPELLED PASSENGER -CARRYING VEHICLES WHEN NECESSARY" IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORK OF ,SUPPRESSING COUNTERFEITING AND OTHER CRIMES," BUT CONGRESS HAS NOT AUTHORIZED THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TO TRANSFER FORFEITED VEHICLES TO THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION NOR HAS IT AUTHORIZED THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION TO RECEIVE FORFEITED VEHICLES AND INCUR EXPENSES FOR THE MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION OF SUCH VEHICLES. SPECIFIC AUTHORITY WAS GRANTED BY CONGRESS IN ONE INSTANCE PRIOR TO THE GRANTING OF AUTHORITY TO ACQUIRE THE FORFEITED VEHICLES UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, NAMELY, IN TREASURY DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, IN CONNECTION WITH THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE NARCOTIC LAWS BY THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, 44 STAT. 143, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY MAY AUTHORIZE THE USE, BY NARCOTIC AGENTS, OF MOTOR VEHICLES CONFISCATED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, AND PAY THE MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION THEREOF FROM THIS ALLOTMENT. * * *

NO SIMILAR AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GRANTED BY CONGRESS TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY FOR APPLICATION IN CONNECTION WITH THE SECRET SERVICE DIVISION OR ANY OTHER SERVICE OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT.

IN DECISION DATED MARCH 28, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 640, THIS OFFICE HELD THAT

MOTOR VEHICLES FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT AND TURNED OVER TO THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT, PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, 43 STAT. 1116, MAY BE USED ONLY FOR ENFORCEMENT OF CUSTOMS LAWS, THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT, AND THE NARCOTIC ACT, AND THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR SAID SERVICES ARE EXCLUSIVELY AVAILABLE FOR THE EXPENSES OF MAINTENANCE, REPAIRS, AND OPERATIONS OF SUCH VEHICLES.

IN THE PRESENT CASE IT APPEARS THAT THE VEHICLE WAS NEVER USED BY THE NARCOTIC SERVICE AND WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE USED BY SAID SERVICE, THE SOLE PURPOSE OF HAVING IT TURNED OVER TO SAID SERVICE BEING TO TRANSFER IT FOR USE BY THE SECRET SERVICE. NOT ONLY WAS THIS PROCEDURE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE LAW, BUT IT CONTRAVENED, ALSO, THE OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CITED BY YOU. NOTE THE NEXT TO LAST PARAGRAPH OF SAID OPINION IN WHICH IT IS STATED THAT "THE APPLICATION BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, FOR FORFEITED VESSELS AND VEHICLES, WITH A VIEW TO FORTHWITH TRANSFERRING THEIR USE TO OTHER ACTIVITIES, UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE PROVISO RELATING TO THE DISPOSITION OF SURPLUS PROPERTY WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE LEGISLATIVE INTENT AS DISCLOSED IN THESE STATUTES.'

THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE FOR THE EXPENSES OF THE SECRET SERVICE ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR ANY EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE FORFEITURE AND/OR TRANSFER OF THIS VEHICLE, BUT SINCE THE EXPENSE FOR THE ADVERTISING FOR WHICH THIS CLAIM IS MADE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN INCURRED BY THE CUSTOMS SERVICE IN THE REGULAR COURSE OF ITS ACTIVITIES LONG BEFORE THE VEHICLE WAS TURNED OVER TO THE NARCOTIC SERVICE AND THE SECRET SERVICE IN CONTRAVENTION OF LAW, THE CLAIM WILL NOW BE CONSIDERED ON ITS MERITS AS A CLAIM UNDER THE CUSTOMS SERVICE APPROPRIATION.