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House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Block Federal Officials from Abusing Their Authority

Washington, February 4, 2016 - Today the House of Representatives passed important bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) to block the Justice Department and financial regulators from abusing their authority to target legal and law abiding businesses they may not like. The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act (H.R. 766) is a continued effort to ensure the Administration’s abusive tactics under a program known as “Operation Choke Point” do not happen again.

“It’s unacceptable for the federal government to use its authority to pressure banks and other financial institutions into closing down accounts and blocking access to capital of legal and law abiding businesses that they may not happen to like or agree with,” said Congressman Posey. “The Justice Department should use their limited resources to investigate and prosecute criminals and businesses that are violating the law, not to pursue a political agenda.”

Through a program called “Operation Choke Point,” the Justice Department and financial regulators teamed up to coerce banks and financial institutions into severing relationships with perfectly legal businesses because the Administration did not like these industries. Gun and ammunition stores, tobacco shops, short-term lenders and payment processors are among some of the businesses that have been targeted by “Operation Choke Point.”

The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act prevents this abuse of power and requires federal banking agencies to provide banks with written justifications for any request to terminate or restrict a customer’s account. By correcting the abusive tactics in “Operation Choke Point,” the bill refocuses the mission of Justice Department and Washington regulators to investigate fraud and other criminal acts.

“There is a difference between investigating criminal activity and unilaterally shutting down legal businesses and then denying them due process,” said Posey. “These are tactics you would find in a Third World country and have no place here in the United States.”

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