The Justice Department's improper political agenda

| Sunday, July 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Overreaching yet again, the Obama administration's Justice Department is perverting a fraud-prevention effort by pressuring banks to deny basic financial services to legitimate businesses it finds politically unpalatable.

Justice leads the Operation Choke Point partnership of federal agencies. It's supposed to protect consumers by keeping fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services. But a hearing held by a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee shows it is harassing legal businesses that “line up squarely against the political leanings of the current administration” in 24 industries, including ammunition, fireworks and payday loans, according to The Daily Caller.

Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., cited an example of a Justice official allegedly threatening to immediately audit a bank providing services to a payday lender. Also revealed were more than 50 subpoenas that Justice has issued to banks serving disfavored businesses in what committee member Spencer Bachus, R-Alabama, called administration attempts to pressure banks to drop such customers or face protracted, expensive litigation.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., has introduced the End Operation Choke Point Act to stop such outrages by providing “safe harbor” for banks' dealings with legal businesses. But ending this administration's broader penchant for twisting laws and law enforcement for political gain requires massive public pressure — and well-cast ballots.

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