Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is requesting a transcribed interview with a former Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) official for allegedly flagging consumer transactions that had the phrases “TRUMP” or “MAGA” in them.
On behalf of the Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Jordan sent a letter requesting testimony to Noah Bishoff, the former director of an office in the Strategic Operations Division of FinCEN, which is part of the Treasury Department.
Jordan said the committee had obtained documents showing that FinCEN outlined “typologies” of persons of interest in materials distributed to financial institutions. He said these materials included “suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) for identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement” after Jan. 6, 2021.
“These materials included a document recommending the use of generic terms like ‘TRUMP’ and ‘MAGA’ to ‘search Zelle payment messages’ as well as a ‘prior FinCEN analysis’ of ‘Lone Actor/Homegrown Violent Extremism Indicators,” the letter states.
Jordan said FinCEN warned financial institutions of “extremism indicators,” such as transportation charges “for travel to areas with no apparent purchase” or “subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.”
“In other words, FinCEN urged large financial institutions to comb through the private transactions of their customers for suspicious charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression,” he said in the letter.
More top stories from The Hill:
The Treasury Department declined to comment on the letter. FinCEN’s mission is “to safeguard the financial system from illicit use, combat money laundering and its related crimes including terrorism,” according to its website.
Jordan also said FinCEN distributed slides that showed financial institutions how to flag customers who may be potential active shooters or terrorists based on their transactions. He contends that those who may have purchased a firearm, made a purchase at Cabela’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods and other businesses may have had their transactions flagged.
“Despite these transactions having no apparent criminal nexus — and, in fact, relate to Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights — FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors,” Jordan wrote.
“This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious doubts about FinCEN’s respect for fundamental civil liberties,” he added.
Jordan is asking Bishoff to contact the committee staff to schedule a transcribed interview with the committee no later than Jan. 31.