Operation Choke Point Over? No, Not Really!

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Operation Choke Point

What is Operation Choke Point?

In 2013, a U.S. Dept. of Justice initiative buoyed by a consortium of other Federal agencies initiated Operation Choke Point under the reign of Eric Holder.  This operation has been widely reported as originally launched veiled in secrecy with the intention of targeting lawfully conducted businesses that the Justice Department deemed to be “high risk” or otherwise undesirable to them.

The Feds claim they are preventing potential fraud from these companies who are deemed to be “high risk for money laundering” and other predatory consumer practices.

Originally revealed in a Wall Street Journal story in August 2013, these lawful and often regulated businesses that were (and still are) targeted have been typically payday lenders, porn sites, firearm dealers, medical marijuana, hemp oil, and even CBD sites.

I’ve been a victim of the banks and merchant service’s Operation Choke Point, and it has materially harmed Cannabis Animus as well.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that critics call the operation “a thinly veiled ideological attack on industries the Obama administration doesn’t like, such as gun sellers and coal producers.”

Department of Lustice

One example is Obama’s issuance of over 60 subpoenas to banks doing businesses with gun-related organizations.  Can you believe it?  We actually have over 60 banks left in America?  Impressive!  Effectively, we voters have allowed the formation of an oligarchy of banking in America.

And I find it a bit odd that in no research I’ve done on this topic from any of the top ranked articles in Google search results discuss the multi-billion dollar industry called Medical Cannabis.  Isn’t that interesting?  It’s been relegated to virtually all cash transactions, body guards, and everything that goes with protecting a lawful Cannabis product-based business.

 The Heritage Foundation says…

“Regulators have no legal authority to direct private financial services away from government-disfavored but fully legal activity—such actions promote unfair legally disparate treatment of commercial actors. 

Moreover, financial intermediaries and the firms they are pressured into “choking off” suffer welfare losses from such conduct, as do the consumers who are denied access to (or pay higher prices for) desired goods and services supplied by the “choked off” merchants.

Fast Forward... August 2017

To August 2017… when Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pressured by our fellow Americans and President Donald Trump in a superficially benevolent gesture confirmed that Operation Check Point was heretofore discontinued and closed.

Assist. A.G. Stephen Boyd assured the American public that this unlawful initiative “… was not be undertaken again” and further stated that it was “a misguided initiative” left over from the Obama Administration’s prolific preference to go around the legislative process in whatever manner he deemed within his control.

Legalize MarijuanaPaul Larkin, Sr. Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, pointed out that after President Obama lost the majority of votes in both House and Senate, he resorted “ to the issuance of executive orders and agency interpretive rules or guidance documents to effect changes in the (existing) laws.”  He went on to say that Obama was unbelievably successful at achieving controversial policy goals by ignoring the traditional legislative process.  This has become a developing trend with recent U.S. Presidents and without Congressional oversite or due authority and legislative power applied… our Constitutional processes are ignored.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) had repudiated the program as President Obama’s “ill-advised program to suffocate legitimate businesses to which it was ideologically opposed by intimidating financial institutions into denying banking services to those businesses..”  He went further to say that, “By ending Operation Choke Point, the Trump Justice Department has restored the Department’s responsibility to pursue lawbreakers, not legitimate businesses.”

The bottom line is that many Republicans in Congress have argued over the years that the operation restricted banks from serving law-abiding businesses and numerous industries and consumer product categories that were clearly operating lawfully.

And what a refreshing surprise it was for me to see Jeff Sessions actually do the right thing.  But the jury is still out.  There are powerful parties remaining who must also be dealt with in order for Operation Check Point to be honestly proclaimed dead.

New 'De Facto' Home of Operation Choke Point

Aside from the elephant in the room regarding no mention of Cannabis or “medical marijuana” and it’s miraculous products and 100% sustainable source of fuel, fabric, building materials (instead of trees), and 25,000 other products, there remains the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – yet another Federal regulator.

According to Department of Justice records, the CFPB has and will ignore the DOJ’s pronouncement.  After all, the CFPB is not only allowed to investigate banks who choose to deal with these lawful businesses, they are not answerable to Congress.  Therefore, the DOJ and Jeff Sessions has cleverly omitted mention of the CFPB’s rogue behavior and as far as I know has not addresses it.  Nevertheless, it’s clear he is anti-cannabis, anti-CBD, and the single biggest thorn my industry’s hide.

Supporting Positions

In support of Operation Choke Point, Karl Frisch, the Executive Director of a purported consumer watchdog organization called Allied Progress agrees with the Obama administration’s characteristically totalitarian orders.  He states, “Ending this program will make it easier for financial predators and other unscrupulous industries to get the resources they need to carry out their deceptive and frequently unlawful business practices.”

Apparently, Mr. Frisch doesn’t care about the damage done to truly lawful businesses nor does he care that customers like mine are “choked off” from medications that are helping them recover from serious diseases and medical conditions.

Partial List of Restricted Businesses and Industries

  • Ammunition Sales

  • CBD Oil Products

  • Coin Dealers

  • Credit Repair Services

  • Dating Services

  • Debt Consolidation Services

  • Drug Paraphernalia

  • Escort Services

  • Firearms Sales

  • Fireworks Sales

  • Get Rich Products

  • Government Grants

  • Home-Based Charities

  • Hemp Oil Products

  • Life-Time Guarantees

  • Life-Time Memberships

  • Lottery Sales

  • Mailing Lists/Personal Info

  • Medical Marijuana

  • Money Transfer Networks

  • On-line Gambling

  • Pawn Shops

  • Payday Loans

  • Pharmaceutical Sales

  • Pornography

  • Surveillance Equipment

  • Telemarketing

  • Tobacco Sales

  • Travel Clubs

SUMMARY

For those of you who love the fine print and details, here’s a link to the staff report from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Darryl Issa (CA-49).  “The Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point: Illegally Choking Off Legitimate Businesses?

http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Staff-Report-Operation-Choke-Point1.pdf

What are your thoughts on the fact that Operation Choke Point continues in spite of Jeff Session’s announcement?  Please don’t go without leaving a comment below.

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