The head of the U.S. Senate heard from Texas Governor Greg Abbott today regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) practice of pressuring banks to cancel accounts on businesses for political reasons. Governor Abbott sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging the passage of the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act.
The Act would effectively end Operation Choke Point, the DOJ’s targeting of lawful firearm sellers for exclusion from the banking system. The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act was introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and would outlaw the DOJ’s infringement of business owners’ Second Amendment rights while preserving the government’s ability to use banking regulation to combat illegal activity.
The DOJ has received criticism for lumping lawful firearm sellers with a list of targeted businesses such as escort services, on-line gambling operations, and the porn industry. Curiously, free passes are provided to arguably liberal organizations such as abortion clinics, illegal marijuana shops, radical environmental and political groups.
“The executive-branch bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., is too large, is too expensive and wields too much power,” Governor Abbott writes in the letter. “Congress must consistently and decisively take action to control – and if necessary to punish – executive agencies that seek to impose their will on the American people without the consent of our elected representatives. Passing the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act would defend the Second Amendment and preserve the rights of law-abiding business owners.”
The Governor emphasizes that Operation Choke Point offers no recourse for the businesses targeted, thus violating the Constitution’s guarantee of due process under the law. As Texas Attorney General, and now, as governor, Abbott built a national reputation for aggressive push back against federal over-regulation, “whether it’s Obamacare, Dodd-Frank or the EPA.”
“The sole justification for these actions is the baseless notion that affiliation with businesses that sell firearms harms a bank’s reputation,” Abbott’s letter stated. “Congress has never enacted this view into law. The American people do not support it. Yet the DOJ believes it has the power, in its sole discretion, to target firearm sellers and other law-abiding business owners for exclusion from the American economy.”
“To make matters worse, the business owners targeted by Operation Choke Point have no ability to challenge the action taken against them. Their businesses’ very existence can be threatened by the government without any finding that they have acted illegally.”
“This plainly violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process. If unchecked, it would make the federal bureaucracy — not Congress, the States, or the American people — the sole arbiter of whether a business can participate in our economy. And it would empower the executive branch to trample Second Amendment rights by targeting businesses that legally buy and sell firearms.”