Operation Choke Point Has Choked

Operation Choke Point was a 2013 initiative of the United States Department of Justice, aimed to investigate banks in the United States and the business they do with firearm dealers, payday lenders, and other companies believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering. On August 17, 2017, it was announced that the Trump administration would officially end Operation Choke Point, the controversial program that harmed many legitimate businesses.

The government’s activities were supposed to investigate fraudulent operations such as Ponzi schemes, debt consolidation scams and cable box descramblers, but they also went after many perfectly legal businesses like gun and ammunition dealers, coin dealers, tobacco dealers, payday lenders, dating services, fireworks sellers, travel clubs and suppliers of will-writing kits. In the wake of all this, many perfectly legitimate businesses were isolated from banking, payroll, credit card processing, and other financial services.

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Congressmen Darrell Issa, R-Vista: Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., and Tom Marino, R-Pa., sent a letter in July to the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency urging them to discontinue the program.

As the 5 Republicans said in their statement, this was no way for law enforcement to operate, and run counter to principles enshrined in the Constitution. Putting an end to Operation Choke Point, the Trump Justice Department has restored the Department’s responsibility to pursue lawbreakers, not legitimate businesses.

On the other hand, Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, thinks ending the program will enable financial predators and other unscrupulous industries to easily get access to the resources they need so to put their deceptive and frequently unlawful business practices into implementation.

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