Collecting articles on the Justice Department's Operation Choke Point
A House panel says the Obama administration is using the Justice Department to target and “choke out” businesses it finds objectionable, from gun dealers and payday lenders to drug paraphernalia sellers and porn merchants.
The administration is using an anti-credit card fraud effort dubbed Operation Choke Point to go after legitimate businesses it deems “high-risk,” says a staff report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. . . . .
“Operation Choke Point is the Justice Department’s newest abuse of power,” Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and committee chairman, said Thursday. “If the administration believes some businesses should be out of business, they should prosecute them before a judge and jury. By forcibly conscripting banks to do their bidding, the Justice Department has avoided any review and any check on their power.”
The Washington Times has reported that several gun retailers have been dropped by their banks as a result of the operation — the most recent being Powderhorn Outfitters, a sporting goods shop in Hyannis, Massachusetts, which was dropped last week by TD Bank after a 36-year business relationship. . . .
A Missouri congressman . . . Blaine Luetkemeyer wants to choke off funding for “Operation Choke Point.”AWR Hawkins has some discussion on these issues here.
“What it does is goes after an entire industry whether it’s obeying the law or not. And that’s just wrong,” Luetkemeyer said of the initiative in an interview with The Daily Caller.
The Republican lawmaker’s amendment was successfully attached to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill which passed a vote in the House late Thursday.
The amendment comes on the heels of a staff report issued Thursday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The report claims that “Operation Choke Point has forced banks to terminate relationships with a wide variety of entirely lawful and legitimate merchants.”
This happens because the anti-fraud initiative, which is operated by the Department of Justice which works in conjunction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, forces banks to more closely monitor their business relationships with companies in industries deemed “high risk.”
Banks can suffer “reputational risk” by failing to spot fraudulent practices.
This has had a chilling effect in forcing banks to be overly cautious in who they do business with, says Luetkemeyer.
“They are operating legally, and yet Operation Choke Point is not there to go after the bad actors, which I support them doing,” he said, adding, “the problem I have with Operation Choke Point is it goes one step further.”
Luetkemeyer said that gun sellers, ammunition sellers, coin dealers, tobacco sellers, career repair service providers and many other businesses have been wrongly ensnared because of the initiative’s overreach. . . .