Ag Holder Approved of Illegal DOJ Program

posted May 30, 2014

Report from House Committee determines that Holder knew about Operation Choke Point

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released its staff report detailing the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) involvement in Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point is a joint program designed to intimidate banks into ending their financial relationships with lawful businesses in 24 targeted industries. The report determined that the Attorney General had knowledge of, and was complicit in, the execution of Operation Choke Point and knew that this initiative would harm law-abiding businesses that had done nothing wrong.

Executive Director of the United States Consumer Coalition (USCC) Thomas Bezas released the following statement:

“This report is a significant step forward in stopping Operation Choke Point. However, the important parts of this report are being ignored. The report determines that there is no legal justification for the execution of this program, essentially saying that DoJ is acting illegally to shut down lawful businesses. The report also determined that Attorney General Holder was briefed on the program and approved of the program, knowing it would harm law-abiding businesses. The report does not mince words: according to the Committee, DoJ has ‘radically and inappropriately’ expanded its power. Specifically, ‘the Department’s tortured legal analysis’ has turned FIRREA — the 1989 act that allows DoJ to issue subpoenas – ‘on its head.’”

“Moreover, the report calls it ‘patently absurd’ that the Administration puts the burden of proof on businesses in scrutinized industries to prove their innocence, calling this synonymous with the defense demanded of those charged with witchcraft – ‘if one is not a witch, then they will sink rather than float.’ Reporting thus far has missed the clear message of Representative Issa’s Committee: that Operation Choke Point is a deliberate abuse of regulatory power in the hands of high-level, politically motivated government officials. USCC will continue to fight against Operation Choke Point and calls for the immediate disbandment of this extra-legal program.”