6 months, 3 weeks ago
The stories of two businessmen who recently were denied banking services because they sell firearms suggest a secretive government program called Operation Choke Point still affects industries across the nation that the Obama administration considered undesirable.
In one case, a large bank in New England denied a line of credit to a former police officer who started a gun and tactical business in Monroe, Conn., saying it “no longer lends to firearms dealers.”
In the other case, a branch of a North Carolina bank refused to set up a new payment service for a firearms seller in Tryon, N.C., because of the nature of his industry, the business owner said.
The Daily Signal talked to both businessmen, who say they are being punished for their line of work despite efforts in Congress to end discrimination by banks against gun sellers.
Some experts believe that banks’ decision not to do business with gun sellers stems from Operation Choke Point, a Justice Department program that, according to government officials, aimed to “attack Internet, telemarketing, mail, and other mass market fraud against consumers, by choking fraudsters’ access to the banking system.”
Rich Sprandel, an 18-year police veteran, had to retire in 2011 from the force in Seymour, Conn., after being hit by a drunk driver while on duty in his patrol car. Sprandel, who is married and has two children, opened an online firearms and tactical business.
“I have a retirement pension, but it’s not 100 percent of my pay, so I need to make a living to support my family,” Sprandel, 48, who owns Blue Line Firearms & Tactical in Monroe, Conn., said in an interview with The Daily Signal.
On March 7, he got a voicemail message from a vice president at People’s United Bank in Fairfield, Conn., regarding his request for a new line of credit.
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Another firearms dealer, Luke Lichterman, told The Daily Signal that HomeTrust Bank denied banking services to him March 11 because of the “high risk nature” of his business, Hunting and Defense, in Tryon, N.C.
Lichterman, a Columbus resident, said he was trying to open an automatic clearing house payment service with HomeTrust, where he had maintained accounts since 2012.
But, he said, a treasury management sales officer at the Asheville branch of the bank denied his request on March 11 because of his line of work.
“He explained that he’s terribly sorry, but the banking industry is tightly regulated by the federal government and we cannot approve your [payment service] because of the high risk nature of your business,” Lichterman said. “I said, high risk? What risk? What’s the problem?”
Lichterman, 75, said the banker then said, “I’m sure your business is fine, but it’s your industry that we feel is too risky.”
It was supposed to be a dead program, this idea of Operation Choke Point. But it isn’t, and there is only one place to point the finger of blame. No, not Obama. He is like most presidents – he would subsume too much authority and power to himself as a king of other men without the proper checks and balances. The proper checks and balances in this case is supposed to be the House of Representatives and the Senate.
You see, they could easily shut down the government if they wanted. They could pass a bill firing the people in the executive branch responsible for this, and when not signed by Obama, they could withdraw all funds for continued operation of any department. They have the ultimate power. They are the ultimate authority.
But they won’t do it because they believe in what’s happening. They are culprits along with Obama. You can point the finger of blame directly at your elected representatives for this outrage. And no, don’t tell me anything about how much such draconian tactics would hurt this group, that group, national defense, the elderly, the young, education, and on and on and on go the tear jerker stories. I’m uninterested. I don’t jerk tears any more. Shut it all down, or tar and feather them in the streets. I’m fine with either option.