Goodbye and Good Riddance to Operation Choke Point
Reason covers Iain Murray’s work on Operation Choke Point.
A financial dragnet that ensnared porn stars, gun dealers, payday lenders, and other politically disfavored small businesses has been shut down.
Operation Choke Point launched in 2012 as a joint effort between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. (The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would later get involved too.) It was supposed to be a crackdown on online payday lenders making loans into states where high-interest lending is illegal. It quickly morphed into a questionably constitutional attack on a wide range of entrepreneurs who found their assets frozen or their bank accounts closed because they were considered “high-risk” for fraud.
By labeling certain industries as being at a high risk for fraud, the feds were able to increase oversight requirements for some accounts to such a high level that it became unprofitable for banks to work with certain clients, explained Iain Murray, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s vice president of strategy, in a 2014 post at National Review Online.
As Murray pointed out, the Obama administration’s own guidance document for the program included a list of industries targeted with greater scrutiny, including payday loans, credit repair services, fireworks, firearms, ammunition, “As Seen on TV” products, gambling, home-based charities, pornography, online pharmaceuticals, and sweepstakes. Targets of Operation Choke Point—such as porn star Teagan Presley, who was profiled by Vice News in 2014—often didn’t have any idea why their bank accounts were being frozen or closed.
Read the full article at Reason.