Congressman on FinCEN Spying: ‘I shop at Cabela’s. I buy ammo. Am I on a list somehow?’

Rep. Huizenga to government spies…WTF?

Congress wants to know why the Biden administration’s Treasury Department was violating Constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure to spy on Americans’ firearm and ammunition purchases and why they are maintaining a list of gun owners in violation of federal law.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee grilled the Treasury’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson and Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Andrea Gacki in a hearing titled “Oversight of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI).”

Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Andrea Gacki

Several Members of Congress were pointed in their questions regarding admissions by the Treasury Department that it did, in fact, spy on law-abiding citizens’ private financial transactions and internet search terms without their knowledge or suspicion of illegal activity.

In other words, Treasury admitted they violated the Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure when they solicited transaction and internet search histories from corporate banks, which willingly complied. Bank of America has been served a subpoena over private transaction histories, including firearm and ammunition purchases, without a warrant.

Such an admission by the Treasury Department and corporate banks that willingly assisted is concerning that the federal government is violating Constitutional rights to put Americans on watchlists for exercising their rights.

Congress Wants to Know

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) explained that the Treasury Department’s admission it illegally spied on private accounts smacks of the ill-fated and illegal Operation Choke Point, the Obama administration campaign to use the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to discriminate against firearm-related business by starving them of financial services.

Only now, that effort is targeting the private financial transactions of Americans.

“That doesn’t matter what the what the name is,” Rep. Huizenga said. “It’s the action of that I’m very concerned about FinCEN, providing financial institutions with quote suggested search terms and merchant category codes that would be used to identify transactions.”

Rep. Huizenga directly addressed FinCEN’s spying by surveilling Americans who purchase firearms and ammunition or shopped at Cabela’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“I shop at Cabela’s. I buy ammo. Am I on a list somehow?” Rep. Huizenga asked. “That… that’s what a lot of people, including myself, are asking when we’ve heard this. Your agency was created to protect Americans and our national security, not to spy on them.”

Director Gacki responded only that her department would schedule a briefing with Rep. Huizenga’s staff.

Guns and Bibles

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) pressed further, wanting to know where the Treasury Department’s FinCEN drew the legal authority to justify a search of individual bank customer records. Director Gacki tried to say FinCEN has the authority from the Bank Secrecy Act, but Rep. Wagner said that law doesn’t apply.

“But that ma’am it is for terrorism and money laundering, not legal purchases made by a United States citizen,” Rep. Wagner said. “Absent a warrant, Ms. Gacki, my constituents in Missouri and Missouri Second District should not have their legal purchases at Dick’s Sporting Goods or the purchasing of a Bible becoming the knowledge of federal regulators like FinCEN, or any warrants issued by a judge, any subpoenas issued by a court or any legal opinion provided by your general counsel about legal requirements under which banks would be required to provide this type of information, ma’am.”

Director Gacki parried by saying FinCEN’s searches began under the Trump administration but didn’t say that it was a search that President Donald Trump himself knew of. She explained that those key term searches, including “Trump” or “MAGA” or purchase histories of firearms, ammunition and even Bibles, continued with the Biden administration. Just one week ago, Treasury Secretary Yellen refused to tell Congress that FinCEN did, in fact, spy on Americans’ private financial transactions and key search terms.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wasn’t cooperative with Congressional questioning

“Bible? Gun violence? Those are our gun purchases,” Rep. Wager asked of the breadth of the FinCEN’s surveillance. “You know, I’m trying to understand here, these are legal purchases. These have nothing to do with terrorism, or money laundering or anything that would come under data, privacy and such. You know, were there warrants issued by a judge or a court that required them to provide this information?”

Director Gacki didn’t answer, instead referring Rep. Wagner to the DOJ. Rep. Wagner said the American public deserves transparency on this issue.

“And I want FinCEN and Treasury to come forward before this committee, before our members, before the people of the United States of America and explain how it is that that the federal government and Treasury and arms of treasury are asking for information from banks about legal purchases that may be politically-triggered, that may be triggered by the fact that they’re purchasing a firearm, or religiously-triggered by the purchase of a Bible.” she said. “I am not happy with any of the answers that I’ve received. Both of the Treasury Secretary, quite frankly, from you.”


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

10 Responses

  1. The only ‘code’ needed for guns and blammo (where is the Marsupial One’, anyways?) is ‘sporting goods.

    No different than golf clubs and footballs, sporting goods…

    1. Those codes . . . they were originally intended to enable big business to spy on us. They fill no legal requirement, the meet no legal need, government shouldn’t want or need access to those codes. I would suggest that the codes simply be done away with. No one in the world needs to know when my wife purchases feminine hygiene products, or when I buy the makings of a bomb. Not the credit card company, not the bank, and sure as hell not government. Not even the village gossip needs to know how I spend my money. Personal business is personal. It’s fine for all those people to know that my local Wal-Mart has sold 400,000 rounds of ammunition in the past year. Business doesn’t have the expectation of privacy that private citizens have. Go ahead, publicize how many rounds each and every store in the country has sold, monthly, quarterly, annually, I don’t care. Just don’t publish each individual sale, with names, addresses, and other personal information. And, by “publish”, I mean “make available by any means to any entity, government or private sector”. Uncle has no need to know.

    1. “We’re all on somebodys list.”

      I’m usually on someone’s sh!t list.

      “Embrace it.”

      I embrace the suckage… 😉

  2. They are not spying on us because they are afraid of us. They are doing so because they want to destroy us.

    I think I am going to purchase another Bible this weekend and use a credit card to pay for it. Better get your Bibles now before the Feds start requiring background checks and waiting periods.

    1. “I think I am going to purchase another Bible …”

      Purchase? I just steal borrow them from motel rooms. No one’s the wiser — unless my wife starts reviewing the credit-card receipts.

  3. Well, hell, anyone who thinks a government that will blatantly violate one portion of the Constitution (1st, 2nd, 9th and 10th Amendments, to name a few) would balk at p*ssing all over the 4th and 5th is living in fantasy land. What part of our rights, privacy, and the Constitution do you think the government WOULD honor??

    We had a pretty good Constitution, along about 1795; it has gone steadily downhill, since (not just actual text (the 16th and 18th Amendments are just two of many egregious examples). But the really fun part is, they no longer bother with the charade of actually amending the Constitution; they just ignore it, instead. And what are you going to do about it? “You can’t fight City Hall” is how most people react. Passive resistance is better than nothing (I NEVER purchase items that I think might trigger surveillance by credit card; I always use cash – doesn’t help much for guns, but it is my finger in the eye of government as to ammunition, Bibles (or conservative/libertarian content or books).

    It is literally none of the government’s damn business WHAT I buy, legally. There is not legitimate “need to know” on the part of the government (frankly, that includes guns, too). But that never stops the busybodies/Karens in government and on the Left (ah, but I repeat myself!).

    T. Jefferson gave us the formula and blueprint. That we haven’t chosen to use it is on us.

  4. Did you carry your cell phone when you were buying ammo. The cell company sells that info, everywhere you go with your pocket spy on me device they note and turn around and sell that information to anyone who is buying, and the feds are buying.

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