Operation Choke Point: Multiple federal bureaucracies harass legitimate businesses in order to please the Left
By Jonathan M. Hanen, Organization Trends, March 2015 (PDF here)
Summary: Since 2012, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has been conducting Operation Choke Point by using informal guidance language to manipulate the FDIC into intimidating banks and third-party payment processors to drop services to whole categories of businesses the Obama administration disfavors, such as online arms and ammunition sellers, tobacconists, and payday lenders. Left-wing nonprofits like the Center for Responsible Lending and Americans for Financial Reform have provided media support for Operation Choke Point. Liberty-minded members of Congress have acted with dispatch to bring OCP back into the rule of law and restore the property rights of lawful business owners.
For years the Obama administration has been engaged in an unorthodox, extra-legal program aimed at undermining businesses of which it does not approve. It is, some may say, the Chicagoland approach to federal law enforcement. The victims are largely involved in industries that are lawful but that the Left considers morally objectionable: financial services, guns, and tobacco. The program, which has the support of numerous left-wing pressure groups, is called Operation Choke Point.
The Obama administration makes Operation Choke Point (OCP) sound innocuous, perhaps even innovative. The goal of OCP, according to federal officials, is to combat fraud by preventing criminals from accessing financial services. The Justice Department claimed in 2012 that the effort would “reduce dramatically mass market consumer fraud.” In reality, OCP is little more than thuggery. Federal officials threaten businesses and make it difficult for them to carry on.
This is not law enforcement. It is intimidation backed up by the might of the government.
Carl Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center has an interesting article about all the myopic major corporations that sponsored the recent convention of National Action Network. The group is headed by the truly awful charlatan and race huckster Al Sharpton. It begins this way:
Whatever else might be said of Reverend Al Sharpton, when he throws a party, he does it in style. The 14th annual conference of his New York-based nonprofit National Action Network (NAN) last month in Washington, D.C. during April 11-14 was no exception. Once more, corporations and to a lesser extent unions paid most of the tab for a well-choreographed event that featured dozens of speakers and panelists eager to affirm the aggressive black identity politics of their host. The plenary address by Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a panel on legal issues, amounted to a group manifesto for the arrest of George Zimmerman for the highly-publicized killing – evidence points toward self-defense – of a black Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, to the delight of virtually all attendees, was arrested that day on a state second-degree murder charge.
I have a piece in the American Spectator: Soros Election-Rigging Project Dies? The mysterious disappearance of the Secretary of State Project.
Here is how it begins:
Soros Election-Rigging Project Dies?
By Matthew Vadum
The mysterious disappearance of the Secretary of State Project.
Whatever happened to the left-wing Secretary of State Project liberals promised would save our elections from the dirty tricks of those dang lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered Republicans?
The evidence now suggests that the election-stealing, George Soros-funded so-called “527” political committee is dead, or perhaps just deeply sedated. This group that section 527 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code allows to accept unlimited financial contributions was created solely to rig elections for Democrats.
It accomplishes this by electing permissive liberal Democrats as secretaries of state. In most states the secretary of state is the chief elections officer, so putting left-wingers in the often-overlooked but critically important office allows these political radicals to manipulate the electoral process. This is what liberals call “election protection.”
Billionaire donor Soros, whom Saturday Night Live has mocked as the “owner” of the Democratic Party, underwrote the Secretary of State Project in order to help Democrats gain an unfair advantage on Election Day. Soros and progressives all across the fruited plain believe with a religious fervor that right-leaning secretaries of state helped the GOP steal the presidential elections in Florida in 2000 (Katherine Harris) and in Ohio in 2004 (Ken Blackwell). […]
Read the whole thing at the American Spectator.
Voter Fraud and the 2012 Election: The Advancement Project
By Kevin Mooney, Organization Trends, May 2012 (view PDF version: OT0512)
Summary: The George Soros-funded Advancement Project, a radical left-wing group, is colluding with several other progressive groups to block investigations of voter fraud. The mantra of the group, which is becoming a thorn in the side of the Republican Party, is that voter fraud is a myth made up by conservatives in order to disenfranchise the poor and minorities. But voter fraud is a serious problem that needs to be taken seriously.
How serious a problem is voter fraud in America? Ask the left-leaning attorneys associated with the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and they will tell you that the problem is overstated, even non-existent. A March 29 Washington Post op-ed by Brennan Center executive director Michael Waldman and attorney Justin Levitt goes so far as to equate voter fraud in U.S. elections with imaginary sightings of Bigfoot, a.k.a. Sasquatch, the mythical man-like hairy monster said to inhabit the forests of North America.
“Allegations of voter fraud—someone sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote—have been pushed in recent years by partisans seeking to justify proof-of-citizenship and other restrictive ID requirements as a condition of voting,” they wrote. “Scare stories abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom. But the notion of widespread voter fraud … is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch.”
Throughout the United States left-wing activist groups are making a concerted effort to block the investigation of voter fraud. But at the same time these same groups aggressively promote voter registration programs designed to increase the vote count for Democratic Party candidates. Voter registration activists and their lawyers pose as defenders of democracy. But they would have the states allow voting with almost no standards or procedures for guaranteeing the identity and residency of those who vote and register to vote.
Protect Your Vote U.S.
Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III (a board member of Capital Research Center) and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell recently initiated a new campaign to support measures like photo identification requirements to protect the integrity of voting. Their campaign, a project of the American Civil Rights Union, is named Protect Your Vote U.S. [http://protectyourvote.us/]. The practical argument for the campaign is clear:
Here’s a thought-provoking piece from Brandon Darby:
Both the Left and Right have expressed concern over potential abuse in America’s current voting process. But as the rhetoric flies, what are the facts? And is the Department of Justice heeding all concerns?
By Brandon Darby
(This piece is an abbreviated version of Brandon Darby’s original printed piece that was featured in Townhall Magazine’s March 2012 issue)
There’s been much said lately about election integrity and voter identification laws. Both sides of the American political spectrum have raised concerns over polls and potential abuses in the American voting process. In fact, due to the serious voter registration irregularities identified by groups like True the Vote in Texas, along with the numerous voter fraud convictions across the nation involving workers from politically motivated groups like the failed organization ACORN, many states are pursuing photo identification as a means of addressing such assaults on election integrity. Texas, South Carolina and Florida have all taken steps to mandate photo identification as a requirement for voting. In general, Americans holding left-of-center perspectives tend to claim organized racist efforts exist to suppress low-income Americans or minorities from voting. DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz went so far in condemning several recent initiatives to protect against voter fraud as to suggest Republicans want to put voters back to the days of Jim Crow.
Americans with right-of-center perspectives tend to claim voter fraud and an organized effort to register dead or nonexistent people is in full swing by the Left. The Right has also suggested in some cases that efforts to allow Democrats to vote twice or more are in play, as was discovered near Houston, Texas, surrounding the 2010 midterm elections. Both sides have legitimate facts and occurrences to validate their points of view. There was a time in our nation when black Americans weren’t allowed to vote. Even after their right to vote was recognized by the hard and often dangerous—sometimes fatal—work of black activists and allies, laws were implemented by the old Democrats of the South to ensure black Americans still couldn’t vote. Tests which were nearly impossible to pass were administered to many black Americans, ultimately preventing them from exercising their rights. This horror is an historical reality and will forever justify some suspicion any time a requirement is mandated regarding voting.
But a justifiable suspicion which merits further looking into requires just that—further looking into. The initial suspicion doesn’t mean the worst-case scenario is actually occurring. It simply means looking into the matter is justified.
It was Democrats who were predominantly responsible for the Jim Crow laws against black Americans voting. Democrats have historically exhibited a tendency to go to any lengths to ensure the results of elections turn out in their favor, as was the case during Jim Crow when they didn’t want black Americans to participate in choosing non-racist leaders.
Republicans often point out the recent example of the community organizing organization known as ACORN. As outlined in Matthew Vadum’s “Subversion Inc.,” there have been 55 convictions for voter fraud and voter registration fraud from ACORN’s efforts, which leaned heavily in favor of the Democratic Party.
The Left’s Army of Election Law “Experts”: They Are Getting Ready for the 2012 Election
By J. Christian Adams, Organization Trends, October 2011 (PDF available here: OT1011)
Summary: Liberal foundations, public interest law firms and advocacy groups have created a permanent network of experts and organizations devoted to an arcane but critical task: monopolizing the narrative on election laws and procedures. Cloaking their actions in the rhetoric of civil rights and the right to vote, they seek to affect the outcome of the election. They challenge any effort to protect the integrity of the ballot box by denying the possibility of vote fraud and crying “Jim Crow.”
Americans used to believe their elections ran smoothly: You left the voting booth, the votes were counted and reported. Although voters lacked first-hand knowledge, they had faith that whomever gets the most votes wins. The presidential election of 2000 changed all that. The 36-day battle for the presidency revealed mechanical flaws in the electoral system; it showed elections can be decided in courtrooms instead of at the ballot box. In 2000 competing teams of highly paid lawyers argued over hanging chads, military ballots, and uniform statewide counting standards. Like a 15-round heavyweight prize fight, one team of election lawyers eventually knocked the other out.
These days Americans have grown accustomed to elections that end in legal maneuvering, but they assume both sides are evenly matched and similarly funded. Even if today’s electoral fights aren’t front page news, the public expects each contender to have a battery of lawyers and experts, equally prepared to tangle in court or before the media over the rules and procedures of the election.
That assumption is false. With the 2012 national election fast approaching, it’s important to understand that the Left is fully engaged. It is ready to dispute how the next election is organized and administered by state and local election officials. The conduct of that election has genuine consequences—and the battle over the interpretation of election law next year is already taking place.
Left-Wing Groups Dominate Election Law
Leftists dominate the field of election law. Like so many other institutions, from academia to foundation philanthropy to the media “experts” who cover every corner of our electoral system, they have financial sponsors who understand that there are battles to be fought over election law and voting systems long before voters cast their ballots. The dominance of the Left affects both the outcome and the integrity of elections, and the future course of the nation.
Attorney General Eric Holder has made it abundantly clear he has absolutely no interest in investigating his radical friends at ACORN.
Holder’s Justice Department released a legal opinion last week that allows the Obama administration to ignore the will of Congress which has voted overwhelmingly to suspend federal funding of ACORN until at least Dec. 18. He’s also ignored the 88-page report on ACORN’s systemic corruption and flagrant racketeering activities that was issued this summer by Republican investigators on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
But Americans really shouldn’t be surprised that Attorney General Holder is bending over backwards to help his radical friends at ACORN.
Holder, whom I’ve long argued is unfit to serve as the federal government’s chief law enforcement officer, supports ACORN’s goals.
ACORN wants to use the power of government to bring about a radical transformation of American society.
So does Holder.
He is unapologetic about his desire to force Big Government down the throats of Americans. Holder rarely misses an opportunity to advocate expanding the size and scope of the federal government. He told a 2004 gathering of the left-wing American Constitution Society, “Government has been the primary force for positive social change in our country’s history. It can be again.”
Like ACORN, he thinks electoral fraud is a myth manufactured by people who want to disenfranchise minorities and the poor. “I think there is a feeling among Republicans that there is a widespread amount of voter fraud out there. I don’t think the statistics actually would substantiate it,” he told Fox News in 2004.
When Darnell Nash, whom ACORN registered to vote nine times, was convicted of vote fraud –not just mere voter registration fraud— in Cleveland earlier this year, Holder couldn’t be bothered to comment. A spokesman for Cleveland prosecutor Bill Mason, a Democrat, told me last month that a local investigation of ACORN remains wide open.
Like ACORN, Holder supports the so-called Fairness Doctrine that would force conservative talk radio hosts off the air Hugo Chavez-style. He told the American Constitution Society:
The nation must be reminded that the word liberal is more than a conservative slur. The nation must be reminded that it was the progressive, liberal tradition that brought about the social and economic changes that were necessary many years ago. The nation must be convinced that it is a progressive future that holds the greatest promise for equality and the continuation of those policies that serve to support the greatest number of our people. In the short term this will not be an easy task. With the mainstream media somewhat cowered by conservative critics, and the conservative media disseminating the news in anything but a fair and balanced manner, and you know what I mean there, the means to reach the greatest number of people is not easily accessible.
Also like ACORN, Attorney General Holder hates conservatives. Viscerally.
His public utterances are weighted down with the same old tiresome liberal clichés about those on the right one might find on the ultra left-wing Daily Kos hate site.
Holder told the American Constitution Society gathering that “conservatives have been defenders of the status quo, afraid of the future, and content to allow to continue to exist all but the most blatant inequalities.” They have “made a mockery of the rule of law.” Conservatives try to “put the environment at risk for the sake of unproven economic theories, to play to the fears of our citizens, and not to their hopes, and to return the nation to a time that in fact never existed.”
Conservatives are “breathtaking” in their “arrogance,” Holder claimed. “From redistricting schemes, to attacks on abortion rights, to energy policies that are as shortsighted as they are ineffective, to tax cuts that disproportionately favor those who are well off and perpetuate many of the inequities in our nation, the conservative movement has been unafraid to push the limits in advancing this agenda.”
Holder denounced what he called “the conservative agenda of social division, mindless tax cutting, and a defense posture that does not really make us safer.”
ACORN’s chief organizer Bertha Lewis couldn’t have said it better.
Holder also has a long history of involvement in charities and nonprofits that seek to stick it to conservatives.
He has been a member of the board of directors of the American Constitution Society. The ACS believes in the myth of the “living” Constitution and views the limits that great charter places on government power as quaint anachronisms to be overcome through clever legal sophistry.
ACS is, of course, funded by the big players in left-wing political finance, including members of the billionaires’ club, the Democracy Alliance. Reliably liberal benefactors of ACS include George Soros’s Open Society Institute ($2,201,500 since 2002), Ford Foundation ($600,000 since 2003), Sandler Foundation ($200,000 in 2003), Tides Foundation ($25,000 since 2002), Barbra Streisand Foundation ($20,000 since 2002).
Meanwhile, it has been exhaustively documented that Holder has what could charitably be called a cavalier approach to a key civil right, you know, that inconvenient, archaic one described in the Second Amendment that the media wishes we would all forget about.
As the Independent Institute’s Stephen P. Halbrook, author of The Founder’s Second Amendment, told a Senate panel considering Holder’s nomination at the beginning of the year, “many Americans have reason to be uneasy about Mr. Holder’s nomination for attorney general. They deserve to have a person in this role who is committed to upholding all parts of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, Mr. Holder has proven himself not to be that person.”
As deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, Holder pushed for federal licensing of handgun owners and federal registration of guns, waiting periods for gun purchases, and rationing of handgun sales. The former Janet Reno acolyte signed on to a pro-gun prohibition amicus curiae brief in District of Columbia v. Heller, last year’s groundbreaking Supreme Court case in which justices struck down the District’s oppressive handgun ban.
Like Holder, ACORN has long supported gun control. Content to leave poor people in the inner city defenseless at the hands of violent criminals, ACORN intervened in court to defend a Jersey City, N.J., gun control ordinance.
I’ve just received a letter from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in which members demand that Attorney General Eric Holder launch an investigation of ACORN.
The money quote from the letter:
According to press accounts, a former ACORN board member –Marcel Reid– has asked the Department of Justice to investigate and root out ACORN corruption with a nationwide probe. We respectfully urge the Department of Justice to undertake a full-fledged, nationwide investigation of ACORN, including an assessment of whether ACORN’s conduct violates various applicable federal statutes, and to conduct its work with all deliberate speed. The integrity of our electoral system demands no less.
It is signed by commissioners Gerald A. Reynolds (chairman), Peter N. Kirsanow, Ashley L. Taylor Jr., Gail Heriot, and Todd F. Gaziano.
Here is the letter.