House GOP report outlines federal monitoring of Americans' financial data

The report largely takes aim at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and myriad financial institutions.

An interim staff report from the House Judiciary Committee and the Weaponization subcommittee has documented federal surveillance of American financial transactions in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

"[T]he Committee and Select Subcommittee have uncovered startling evidence that the federal government was engaged in broad financial surveillance, prying into the private transactions of American consumers," reads the executive summary. "This financial surveillance was not predicated on any specific evidence of particularized criminal conduct and, even worse, it keyed on terms and specific transactions that concerned core political and religious expression protected by the Constitution."

The report largely takes aim at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and myriad financial institutions. During the course of the investigation, the panel interviewed former FBI analyst George Hill, who asserted that Bank of America had provided federal authorities with private consumer data voluntarily. Included in that data were the names of BoA card users who made transactions in Washington, D.C., from Jan. 5-7 of 2021.

Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, in May of last year, pressed BoA for information on the matter and later issued a subpoena for materials. The panels also sought similar materials from other financial institutions.

"These documents show that following the events of January 6, 2021, federal law enforcement officials from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the FBI initiated multiple discussions with financial institutions," the report continued. "These meetings were geared toward discussing options for financial institutions to share customer information voluntarily with federal law enforcement outside of normal legal processes."

The report also highlighted findings that FinCEN had informed financial institutions on how to use Merchant Category Codes (MCC) to review transactions using keywords, recommending that said institutions look for terms involving firearms and sporting goods stores.

"Americans doing nothing other than shopping or exercising their Second Amendment rights were being tracked by financial institutions and federal law enforcement. Despite these transactions having no criminal nexus, FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors and subject to surveillance," the report continued.

Other incidents the Republicans highlighted include suggestions from law enforcement that banks filter Zelle payments using the terms "MAGA" and "TRUMP" as well as other politically sensitive terms. The Treasury confirmed doing so in February of this year, indicating that FinCEN began "exchange events" after the Jan. 6 incident.

"[T]the documents received by the Committee and Select Subcommittee show a pattern of financial surveillance aimed at millions of Americans who hold conservative viewpoints or simply exercise their Second Amendment rights," the executive summary concluded. "This raises serious concerns and doubts about federal law enforcement’s and financial institutions’ commitment to respecting Americans’ privacy rights and fundamental civil liberties."

The remainder of the report includes documents, communications, screenshots, and testimonies to substantiate the overall findings.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.