We’ve written before about Operation Choke Point, an anti-fraud program that the Department of Justice is improperly and illegally using as an excuse to make life hard on certain types of legal businesses — including gun retailers.
Now a coalition of businesses and individuals opposed to DOJ’s abuse of the policy has formed a whistleblower-style “response page” to fight OCP, and they’re calling the program what it is: “a U.S. government program responsible for ending banking relationships with private-sector companies and their customers.”
The webpage for the United States Consumer Coalition (USCC), a new organization that aims to take down the abusive program, solicits real-life stories from people and business whose financial services have been restricted by banks under DOJ pressure not to do business with “high-risk” clients — even clients who, prior to OCP, had enjoyed the use of those same banking services, without a hiccup, for years.
“Whether you are a company who has lost your banking relationship, a customer who has lost your bank account, or a bank employee who has been told to close client accounts, please tell us your story here,” USCC encourages. “We may contact you for more information but your response will be considered confidential and anonymous.”
USCC is also asking for current and former government and banking employees to offer up what they’ve seen behind the scenes. “Are you a government employee who works for the Department of Justice, FDIC, or another federal agency and you want to stand up for America’s consumers?” the website solicits. “Tell us your story about Operation Choke Point by emailing us…”
The organization, which appears to have launched sometime in March, isn’t focused solely on Operation Choke Point. It also takes aim at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, The Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency regulations that stifle economic growth and limit consumer choice.
The USCC isn’t alone in its opposition to OCP; the backlash against the program appears to be gaining momentum on multiple fronts, as more consumers and businesses — typically small, mom-and-pop operations or individual contractors — encounter denials of financial services thanks to the Obama Administration’s massaging of anti-fraud laws. So far, banks don’t want to deal with the hassle of selective Federal scrutiny, so they’ve simply been complying with the DOJ’s demands to yank accounts from clients the government has suddenly deemed “risky” — even though the clients’ activities are legal.
“This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent ‘reputational risk’ to do business with,” Peter Weinstock, a Texas lawyer who specializes in banking and corporate regulation, told The Washington Times earlier this week. “So financial institutions are reacting to this extraordinary enforcement arsenal by being ultra-conservative in who they do business with: Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped.”