This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 20, 2015: 

Mike Crapo, the senior senator from Idaho, has been around the block more than once. Before being elected to the Senate in 1999, he served as the state’s representative in the House for three terms prior. Before that he served as a state senator, and the state senate president from 1988 to 1992.

It’s safe to say that he’s run into his share of thugs, criminals, and ideologues so that nothing that Eric Holder, soon to be former Attorney General, does would surprise him.

Last fall Crapo and four other senators wrote Holder a nice, polite letter asking him to please cease and desist enforcing Operation Choke Point as his agency was operating outside the bounds of the and Congressional by forcing banks to stop lending to gun shop owners and manufacturers (and others) on the FDIC’s list of 20 “disreputable” businesses.

He was very polite:

We write to express our strong concerns regarding “Operation Choke Point”…


Specifically, Operation Choke Point is inappropriately targeting business models not supported by the [Obama] administration and is politicizing the payment system and access to credit markets.

Crapo said that the list put together by Holder’s DOJ and used by the FDIC to harass, threaten, and intimidate banks who refused to terminate their financial relationships with these businesses “has been used as a pretext by DOJ to limit essential banking services for industries out of favor by this Administration.”

Would he please stop, wrote Crapo. More specifically, Crapo respectfully asked Holder to “promptly cease seeking to use subpoenas and legal actions to unfairly impose liability on parties not involved in fraud….” After all, these actions and threats were drying up essential funding for these “out of favor” businesses illegally. And so would he please stop.

Crapo ended his obsequious letter with a small additional request: would Holder please tell him and his senators just exactly how he planned to “refocus” his “implementation” of Operation Choke Point to comply with his request? Crapo said that “we respectfully request all responsive information be provided to us by November 2, 2012.” And, “Thank you for your cooperation.”

Holder ignored the letter.

Operation Choke Point continued to harass gun stores and gun makers across the country. There was a small temporary victory when the FDIC decided to remove the notorious and infamous list of the 20 industries now “out of favor,” and it “suggested” that its enforcement agents provide some sort of evidence of wrongdoing before demanding that a bank terminate its relationship with a customer on that list.

This was called a huge victory by the Washington Times, which declared that this slight step back by the FDIC “effectively ends Operation Choke Point” altogether.

Ah, that it would be that simple. Crapo is dealing with an ideological thug in Holder who cares nothing about constitutional limitations, legislative intentions, or polite letters signed by senators from a few small and irrelevant conservative states.

So Operation Choke Point continued harassing and intimidating business owners, especially those in, or related to, the gun business. As Kelsey Harkness of the The Daily Signal found out when she visited the Las Vegas 2015 Shot Show in Las Vegas in January, the attacks have continued and even intensified. She interviewed numerous participants, including Patrick Williams, owner of the SBR Tactical gun store in Corpus Christi, Texas, who told her that he was booted from Square, PayPal, and Intuit simply because he was an Obama target. After several such interviews, Harkness concluded that “it appears that little – if anything – has changed.”

Gun makers have been targeted (sorry) by Holder as far back as 2012, long before the Wall Street Journal exposed the sorry business in August, 2013. Back in 2012, Bank of America ended abruptly its 12-year relationship with McMillan Group International, a gun maker in Phoenix, and with American Spirit Arms located in Scottsdale. As Joe Sirochman, American Spirit’s owner, said:

At first [Operation Choke Point targeted] the bigger guys – gun parts manufacturers or high-profile retailers. Now the smaller mom-and-pop shops are being choked out…


They need cash [and credit lines] to buy inventory. Freezing their [accounts] will put them out of business.

Kelly McMillan, spokesman for the McMillan Group, was blunt:

This is an attempt by the federal government to keep people from buying and a way for them to combat the rights we have.


It’s a covert way for them to control our right to manufacture and individuals to buy guns.

The only way to get a thug’s attention is to cut off his oxygen, and that is exactly what Crapo is attempting to do. On Thursday he, as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, offered an amendment to the budget bill to defund Operation Choke Point. He wants to know just how many on the committee are willing to stand up and be counted in their opposition to Operation Choke Point. He also wants to know if he can get the amendment onto the floor of the Senate where will have to deal with it (or not).

It’s a strategic move by Crapo who has learned his lesson from Holder well: when dealing with a thug, go for the jugular.



Daily Signal: Exclusive: Senator Aims to Use Budget Process to End Operation Choke Point

Senators Demand Answers on DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point”

Crapo’s letter to Holder

Daily Signal: Ready, Aim, Fire: Choke Point Draws Heat From Gun Industry

Daily Signal: ‘Have You Heard of a Little Thing Called Operation Choke Point?’: Phone Recording Shows Targeting of Tobacco Business

: Small Victory in Congressional War Against Operation Chokepoint

Background on Operation Chokepoint

Bio on Mike Crapo

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