Agencies will launch preliminary inquiry into program potentially targeting tobacco sales, in response to requests from congressmen The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have said that they will both launch investigations into a much-criticized federal initiative, called “Operation Choke Point.”
Operation Choke Point is designed to go after banks and third-party processors that fraudulently take money from people’s bank accounts. While the administration claims that it is not directed at any industry, critics say it’s a thinly veiled ideological attack on industries such as check cashing businesses, ammunition and firearms sales, tobacco sales and debt collectors.
Last month Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-UT) and about 30 other members of Congress wrote to the FDIC and the Justice Department, asking for them to look into the program. Last Friday, DOJ issued a statement saying that it had opened “a preliminary inquiry only,” and must “first determine jurisdiction and then whether there is a basis to open an actual investigation.” In response, Luetkemeyer said it was “a great first step in ensuring that those responsible for Operation Choke Point are held accountable and that Congress and the American people receive details and answers they deserve.”
Thus far, NACS has not seen any evidence of Operation Choke Point having an influence on the convenience store industry. However it is an issue to keep an eye on and if you’ve seen or experienced problems with lenders due to this program, please contact Jon Taets, director of government relations, firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 518-4224.