Ending An Illegal Practice

Heritage.org posted an article today about the ending of Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point was the brainchild of the Obama Administration that was used to isolate financially businesses the administration did not approve of.

The article reports:

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), who helped lead a multi-year effort to shut the program down, highlighted some of theses newest findings and pointed out that stopping Operation Choke Point is not a partisan issue.

Luetkemeyer’s legislation to prevent a redo of Choke Point – The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2017 – overwhelmingly passed the House, with only two nay votes. Operation Choke Point was an egregious affront to the rule of law, so it is good to see that so many lawmakers want to prevent a repeat.

For those unfamiliar, Choke Point consisted of bureaucrats in several independent federal agencies taking it upon themselves to shut legal businesses – such as payday lenders and firearms dealers – out of the banking system. Given the nature of the U.S. regulatory framework, this operation was easy to pull off.

The Operation was carried out by the people in the F.D.I.C. who are supposed to be engaged in insuring that Americans who have placed money in American banks will not be bankrupted by a financial crisis.

The article explains:

Officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), for instance, simply had to inform the banks they were overseeing that the government considered certain types of their customers “high risk.” The mere implication of a threat was enough to pressure banks into closing accounts, because no U.S. bank wants anything to do with extra audits or investigations from their regulator, much less additional operating restrictions or civil and criminal charges.

Banks are incredibly sensitive to any type of pressure from federal regulators, and they know that the regulators have enormous discretion.

The article concludes:

It is now clear that these unelected government officials set out to harm law-abiding citizens. Yet many of the government officials named in these documents are still employed by the same government agency. Most of these folks work at the FDIC, and one has even moved up from a regional director position to FDIC Ombudsman.

At the very least, the Trump administration owes the public a full investigation into Operation Choke Point and an explanation for why many of the people involved in this abuse of power are still working for the government.

Operation Choke Point was mainly directed at banks dealing with payday lenders or any business related to gun sales. It was obviously a government shakedown of banks doing business with legal businesses. Hopefully the legislation passed to prevent this from happening again will be successful. Meanwhile, there are people in government who need to be held accountable.

 

A Massive Train Wreck Blocked The Street

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about the two investigations that are currently going on involving President Trump. The editorial reminds us that as the media continues to breathlessly report of the Trump-Russia Collusion Scandal, there is a definite lack of actual evidence to report. Meanwhile there seems to be a lot of evidence showing that the FBI and DOJ overstepped their bounds and acted in a very partisan manner during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. However, that evidence is being purposely ignored.

The editorial cites an interesting story that illustrates the media’s focus:

National Review reporter John Fund relates an interesting story. He was waiting to go on the air and struck up a conversation with another prominent reporter in the network’s green room.

Why, he asked, aren’t reporters actively investigating the suspicious activities at the Justice Department and the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia and Hillary/email investigations?

Fund says the reporter “bluntly told me ‘There’s only room for one narrative on all this. And it’s all about Trump.’ “

You might think that reporters are chasing facts wherever they might lead, and “speaking truth to power,” especially when that power involves the CIA, FBI and Justice Department.

Instead, it’s all about the “narrative.”

The editorial reminds us of the solid results of the investigation that is getting results:

While Mueller has turned up no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, this “counternarrative” has led to: former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fired for lying to investigators; Peter Strzok and Lisa Page booted off Mueller’s team for virulently anti-Trump texts; Deputy Assistant AG Bruce Ohr demoted after contacts with a Trump oppo-research firm came to light; the quitting of former Deputy Assistant AG David Laufman, who played a key role in both the Russia and Clinton email investigations; and FBI general counsel James Baker reassigned after evidence emerged that he’d been in contact with leftist reporter David Corn.

In other words, while the Mueller investigation sputters along, the evidence of political abuse at the FBI and Justice is piling up.

This “counternarrative” also has uncovered the fact that the FBI had a spy in the Trump campaign, and that the FBI has not been entirely forthcoming about how the Trump investigation got started, or when.

The editorial concludes:

It reminds us of the story about the cub reporter who is sent to cover a routine meeting of the local town council. The reporter later returns to the newsroom without a story. When the editor asks why there’s no story, the reporter responds: “I couldn’t get to the government building because a massive train wreck blocked the street.”

A good reporter, or at least one who isn’t hopelessly biased, would be able to see that the real story isn’t the go-nowhere Mueller investigation, but the more troubling story of abuse of power by Obama administration officials to protect Hillary Clinton and then derail the Trump presidency.

The mainstream media is going to look very foolish when the only people reporting on the train wreck are the alternative media.

Reining In An Out Of Control Government

Civil asset forfeiture has become a problem in America in recent years. I have written about a number of cases of forfeiture in recent years. Two of these stories are here and hereHot Air posted an article today citing what Florida has decided to do about this government abuse of power.

The article at Hot Air reports:

Some great news in asset forfeiture reform is coming out of Florida. S.B. 1044, approved by the legislature earlier in the month, was signed into law today by Gov. Rick Scott.

The big deal with this particular reform is that, in most cases, Florida police will actually have to arrest and charge a person with a crime before attempting to seize and keep their money and property under the state’s asset forfeiture laws. One of the major ways asset forfeiture gets abused is that it is frequently a “civil”, not criminal, process where police and prosecutors are able to take property without even charging somebody with a crime, let alone convicting them. This is how police are, for example, able to snatch cash from cars they’ve pulled over and claim they suspect the money was going to be used for drug trafficking without actually finding any drugs.

The civil asset forfeiture law was put into effect to allow municipalities to sell off the assets of criminals and use the money for municipal purposes. In order to trace drug money, a law was passed that any cash deposit of $10,000 or more had to be documented by the bank involved. This law was abused and used against small businesses that generally made cash deposits of less than $10,000. They were accused of making the small deposits to avoid the law, and their bank accounts were seized. A number of small businesses were forced out of business by these actions. Aside from the fact that that this is simply government overreach, it is also a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Montana and New Mexico have already passed laws to curb the abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws. We need this trend to continue.