As Congress hears new legislation this month aimed at reigning in the Operation Choke Point program - now under fire for targeting the financial services of gun shops, ammunition dealers and other causes that don't jive with the Obama administration's views - it turns out the program may have targeted last fall's recall elections over gun control in the battleground state of Colorado.
In an exclusive interview for TheBlaze, Victor Head of Pueblo Freedom and Rights - the group that removed top Democrat state Sen. Angela Giron over her gun control votes - says that their credit card processing vendor cut them off a week before Election Day last September. The company was based in New York City just blocks from the office of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who contributed at least $350,000 of his own money against the recall campaigns.
Victor Head, left, poses with TheBlaze's Dana Loesch at an event during the Colorado recall elections in fall 2013. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kerns
"Without warning, we were notified that our credit card processing provider cut off our banking services," said Head, who gained national attention as the tattooed, 20-something, self-employed plumber who took on the Goliath political establishment in Colorado. "Our services were cut off seven days before the recall election, when we were increasingly taking online credit card contributions. It could have cost us the election."
Head said that local residents helped make up for the shortfall.
"People started walking into campaign headquarters, asking, 'How can we help?' They would give $10, $20, whatever they had in their pockets. We made do."
Evidence has emerged of Operation Choke Point targeting other Republicans on or before Election Day.
J.D. Winteregg, a young conservative Tea Party candidate who took on House Speaker John Boehner in Ohio's GOP primary last May, found his family on the receiving end of a curt letter from their financial institution. Winteregg is pro-Second Amendment, pro-life and supported by the Tea Party Leadership Fund. His campaign team garnered national attention last spring when they ran a parody ad accusing Boehner of suffering from "electile dysfunction" after serving in Washington, D.C. too long.
In a letter dated just one day before Election Day on May 6, 2014, Winteregg's family was informed that their account would no longer be serviced at Lincoln Financial Services.
Copy of the letter sent to GOP candidate J.D. Winteregg's family the day before the election in May 2014. Photo Credit: J.D. Winteregg
"It sent chills down our spines," said Winteregg, whose wife Aimee was the recipient of the letter. "I had heard about Operation Choke Point and of course the IRS scandal, but never in a million years did I think we'd receive a letter like this. You'd like to think you can stick your neck out and run for office in this country without intimidation, but I guess that's not the case anymore."
There is help for consumers, however. The United States Consumer Coalition, a grassroots organization, has established a website for Americans to report if they suspect they were a victim of Operation Choke Point. Citizens may also contact their representative if they think they have been a victim.
Jennifer Kerns is a branded contributor to The Blaze and other publications where she writes about the 2nd Amendment, the future of the GOP, limited government battles, religious liberty and other political hot topics.
Feature Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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