By James W. Porter II, NRA President
Imagine, with your good credit rating and long relationship with your financial institution, you get a notice from your banker that your services are cut off immediately. No checking. No investments. No line of credit. No credit card. Savings closed. Or even that your assets are frozen. If you are in business, this could ruin you. Pronto. And there’s no explanation and no appeal.
You are about to enter a financial twilight-zone, because you fall under a totally subjective, politicized “risk” category invented in secret by radicals at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
It’s called “Operation Choke Point.” The end game is “to ‘choke out’ companies the administration considers ‘high risk’ or otherwise objectionable, despite the fact that they are legal businesses.” Furthermore the whole operation has no basis in law. It is outside any congressional authorization.
Those are the stark conclusions of U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has spent months digging up the truth, despite defiance, obstruction and obfuscation by federal agencies involved. All too familiar.
Among the businesses targeted are individuals and companies involved in lawful, highly regulated firearms and ammunition commerce.
Across the nation, businesses are getting financial “Dear John” letters like this one to a Florida firearms dealer:
“This letter in no way reflects any derogatory reasons for such action on your behalf. But rather one of industry. Unfortunately your company’s line of business is not commensurate with the industries we work with.”
Or there is this letter from a bank to another business:
“Based on your performance, there’s no way we shouldn’t be a credit provider. Our only issue is, and it has always been, the space in which you operate. It is the scrutiny that you, and now that we, are under.”
So the very fact that “scrutiny” is being applied by government operatives is sufficient to smother a business’ lifeblood—access to financial systems.
Investigative reporter, Katie Pavlich—who authored the seminal book on “Operation Fast and Furious”—describes the dreadful power that is brought down on banks to force the Justice Department’s bidding against businesses they target to “choke”:
“DOJ and FDIC send enforcement teams to banks to intimidate them into ending their relationships with the industries. … The clients of these banks report that, without warning, they are notified by their banks that their banking relationship has ended.
“DOJ argues the program is needed to stop fraud, but that’s a lie. The program is used to target politically inconvenient industries. … “
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a May 29, 2014, Newsmax article said the very title of the scheme is “an eerie way for bureaucrats to describe their conduct toward private citizens.”
Gingrich does a masterful job of explaining how it works:
“ … Federal officials have realized that they can leverage their strong regulatory authority over one industry, financial services, to exert broad control over many others.”
“The feds suggested ominously that banks ran a ‘reputational risk’ if they serviced such clients [such as firearm and ammunition dealers.]
“The banks got the message: ‘Nice bank you’ve got there. Shame if something happened to it.’”
There is another way to describe this—government extortion under the false color of law.
It’s Orwellian. You’re guilty of existing. And they will snuff you out in secret. No charges, no arraignment, no judge, no jury, no defense.
Although FDIC—after pressure from NRA, and firearm owners and industry groups across the nation—has dropped its published strangulation list including gun and ammunition businesses, that action means little. Damage has been done already, and since this whole scheme is secret, the choke hold will continue. There are bills in the House of Representatives to put a stop to this extortion, but they will go nowhere as long as Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Obama rubber-stamp colleagues hold the majority in the U.S. Senate.
Operation “Choke Point” serves as an omen for the future.
We can stop it all on November 4 at the ballot box. But we have to do more than cast our vote. We have to educate and urge others who believe in American freedom to vote and to get their friends, families and co-workers to vote in what promises to be a low-turnout midterm election. Our power is exponential and we must use it if our liberty is to survive.
James W. Porter II is the President of the National Rifle Association. His column appears in America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman and American Hunter. Join the NRA and receive a $10 discount on your annual membership.