Court documents unsealed earlier this month provide ample evidence that the Obama administration’s “Operation Choke Point” program pressured financial institutions into cutting ties with lawful businesses, including gun dealers, in ways the Mafia could only dream of getting away with.
According to a news release from the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA), “top government officials and federal agencies” worked to push banks and other lending institutions into financially punishing businesses and industries the Obama White House opposed on political grounds.
“More than 100 records expose depositions and damaging emails of government officials, most notably at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), who executed a secretive campaign against lawful businesses it disfavored while ignoring due process and subverting the legal and regulatory process,” the CFSA news release reported.
The association noted that the “illegal campaign” involved, among other tactics, threats from senior government agencies and officials that financial institution staff could be fired or even subjected to criminal prosecution if they didn’t comply with the Obama regime’s ‘recommendations.’
The documents show that the operation was implemented at the highest levels of the FDIC and was carried out “ruthlessly and enthusiastically” by field operatives, the news release said.
“These documents reveal a shocking abuse of power and conspiracy to single out an industry and bring it to its knees, something far away from a regulatory agency’s requirement to proceed according to the rule of law and due process,” said Dennis Shaul, CEO of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA).
“Despite hearing statements to the contrary from government officials for years, these records prove that there was an intentional and targeted campaign to carry out an illegal policy. If personal preference and subjectivity is the guide for regulation, an awful precedent is set and there is no end to the interests that can be targeted – pro-choice groups, environmental causes, religious groups and many more,” Shaul added.
The real objective was gun control
In April 2016, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced legislation aimed at eradicating Operation Choke Point,” which was run by the Justice Department, BigGovernment.news reported.
The bill, called the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, would have banned federal agencies that regulate banks from requesting or instructing them to terminate customer accounts “unless the regulator has material reason.”
In particular, Operation Choke Point sought to ‘investigate’ banks that did business with gun dealers, payday lenders, pawn shops, and other industries and firms the Obama DoJ claimed were engaged in illegal practices such as fraud and money-laundering.
The Trump Justice Department announced in August 2017 it would be ending the program. At the time, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., called it “a misguided initiative” in a letter to then-Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd. (Related: Trump Justice Department ends “Operation Choke Point,” a program the Obama White House used to shut down gun shops.)
“We share your view that law-abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor,” the letter said, according to Politico. “Enforcement decisions should always be made based on facts and the applicable law.”
Backers of Operation Choke Point claimed that it was a legitimate effort designed to ensure compliance with the law, but the recently released court documents indicate that the program was hurting businesses for no good reason.
Court documents revealed, among other things, that “payday lending” was, early on, the principal industry being targeted by the FDIC and the Justice Department. But firearms dealers were soon targeted as well.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., an early opponent of Operation Choke Point, said in response to the Lee-Cruz bill that since the program began, several firearms dealers, pawn shops and short-term lenders had reported having their bank accounts shut down.
He told The Daily Signal that the legislation “confirms that Americans, all across the country, are speaking up after having been affected by Operation Choke Point.”
Read more about the Left’s attacks on the gun industry at Guns.news.