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.

 

Ending Operation Choke Point

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about five Republican Congressmen who have asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end Operation Choke Point.

The article explains:

As reported extensively by The Daily Signal, the Obama Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder, designed Operation Choke Point in 2012 to “attack internet, telemarketing, mail, and other mass market fraud against consumers, by choking fraudsters’ access to the banking system.”

The program works by using federal banking regulators to pressure banks out of doing business with entire industries the government declares to be “high risk,” choking their access to the U.S. banking system.

But instead of simply targeting illegal, fraudulent businesses, the program also affected legal business owners, who complained they were being unfairly denied credit and losing access to third-party payment processors central to running their businesses.

Over the past two years, The Daily Signal documented multiple cases of banks’ denying legal business owners access to banking services.

I reported in June of 2014 (here) that Mark Cohen, owner of Powderhorn Outfillters, a store in Hyannis, Massachusetts, that sells guns was denied a loan by TD bank because of the fact the he sold guns.

I quoted a Breitbart.com article, which reported:

Cohen explained what happened in an interview with The Daily Caller on Friday.

“This year I went to apply for a line of credit, and the bank manager came by the store,” said Cohen, adding that he’s known the bank manager for over 20 years.

“Mark, I apologize,” she said, according to Cohen, “your credit history is great, but the bank is turning you down because you sell guns.”

That is only one example of how Operation Choke Point was used to interfere with honest businessmen trying to earn a living. Payday lenders were also targeted by Operation Choke Point, and Community Financial Services Association of America, which represents some of the nation’s largest short-term lenders, such as Advance America, filed a lawsuit.

The Daily Signal provides a few details about the lawsuit:

The suit named the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), the government agency responsible for creating a “high risk list” of industries to target. That list grouped categories such as “racist materials” and “credit card schemes” with “firearms” and “tobacco” sales.

In July, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that payday lenders may press forward with their lawsuit against the FDIC and begin the discovery phase. That phase allows the plaintiffs to depose government officials under oath and examine documents and emails related to the program.

“We are thrilled by the court’s order to enter the discovery phase, as this illegal federal program has been unduly harming legal entities for years,” Dennis Shaul, CEO of the Community Financial Services Association, said in a July press release. “It is high time that the government’s unlawful and unjust crusade against lawful and licensed businesses be stopped.”

The article also reports the following:

In April 2016, one of President Barack Obama’s top Justice Department officials behind Operation Choke Point admitted the program had “unintended but collateral consequences” on banks and consumers.

No kidding. Actually, I am not convinced the consequences were unintended.

 

The Political Left’s War On Guns

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about the closing of the last gun shop in San Francisco. It wasn’t that the gun shop was not making a profit–the regulations finally forced the gun shop to close down.

The article reports:

The new city laws were so far over the top that it’s difficult to imagine them surviving a court challenge, but the owners apparently don’t feel like converting their entire operation into little more than a legal defense fund to keep fighting the liberal legislature. They were going to force them to record videos of every customer in the store and keep those videos available permanently. The personal information of every customer would have to be turned over to the police department each and every week even if there wasn’t a hint of an allegation that any crime had taken place. In short, the rules were designed to force the shop to harass their own customers mercilessly to the point where no reasonable person would want to shop there anyway.

The Obama Administration has been waging a war on guns and gun owners for a few years now. In June 2014, I posted an article about Operation Choke Point, an outgrowth of the President’s Financial Fraud Task Force, established by President Obama by Executive Order in 2009.

I quoted a Daily Caller article that reported:

Operated under a cloud of secrecy by the Department of Justice and in coordination with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Operation Choke Point forces banks to keep a closer eye on companies in industries that are deemed “high risk”, including gun and ammunition dealers, coin dealers, payday lenders, and debt consolidation service providers.

As a result of this government interference, a gun shop in Massachusetts was forced to close its doors when it was denied a line of credit from his bank because of the fact that he sold guns.

Americans are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment states:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

We need public officials that respect the Constitution that they took an Oath of Office to uphold.

The Quiet Government War Against Guns

According to a Breitbart.com article posted on January 8, 2014, Operation Choke Point is an outgrowth of the President’s Financial Fraud Task Force, established by President Obama by Executive Order in 2009.

Breitbart reports:

It (Operation Choke Point) also appears to have been kicked off in secret by the Department of Justice, FDIC, and the CFPB in early 2013 without the requisite statutory authority. Officials at the Department of Justice have withheld information about the program from Congress, though they have eagerly shared details with federal financial institution examiners authorized to supervise and discipline the nation’s banks and related financial institutions.

In an article posted yesterday, the Daily Caller describes Operation Choke Point as follows:

Operated under a cloud of secrecy by the Department of Justice and in coordination with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Operation Choke Point forces banks to keep a closer eye on companies in industries that are deemed “high risk”, including gun and ammunition dealers, coin dealers, payday lenders, and debt consolidation service providers.

Sounds harmless enough, right? Well, the story at the Daily Caller was about a Massachusetts gun shop owner who was denied a loan from TD Bank because he owned a gun shop.

This is the story:

Mark Cohen, who owns Powderhorn Outfitters, a Hyannis, Mass. gun retailer, said that his longtime bank, TD Bank, refused to extend a line of credit because of the business he is in.

Cohen explained what happened in an interview with The Daily Caller on Friday.

“This year I went to apply for a line of credit, and the bank manager came by the store,” said Cohen, adding that he’s known the bank manager for over 20 years.

“Mark, I apologize,” she said, according to Cohen, “your credit history is great, but the bank is turning you down because you sell guns.”

Cohen told his friend and lender that he would have no choice but to close his accounts with the bank since they couldn’t provide the services his company needs.

…Cohen believes that TD Bank didn’t want to do business with his gun store because of a government initiative called Operation Choke Point.

TD Bank has since tried to make amends, but Mr. Cohen has said that he will no longer do business with them. There is no law against legally selling guns, and there is no indication or charge that Mr. Cohen was doing anything illegal. We currently have an out-of-control federal government. We have November 2014 and November 2016 to shut it down. If we elect people who will continue in the direction we are going, we deserve what we get.

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