Home Opinion Biden Admin. Caught Spying On Trump Supporters’ EventBrite GoFundMe Pages

Biden Admin. Caught Spying On Trump Supporters’ EventBrite GoFundMe Pages

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In a disturbing expansion of the Biden White House’s illicit monitoring of political dissidents, federal authorities quietly sent letters to the operators of crowdfunding sites asking for private financial information on pages that used terms associated with Republicans, conservatism and former President Donald Trump.

In response, and to determine the extent of Biden administration’s wrongdoing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) has sent his own letter to Eventbrite and GoFundMe “requesting documents and communications between federal agencies, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”

A statement from the Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government announced they are “conducting oversight of financial surveillance of American citizens, including the tracking and monitoring of private financial records in coordination with federal law enforcement.”

According to the Judiciary Committee:

The federal government, through FinCEN, urged large financial institutions to comb through their customers’ private transactions and report charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression. The Committee and Select Subcommittee have uncovered how the FBI worked with Bank of America to gather private financial data of Americans. Congress has an important interest in protecting Americans’ privacy and First Amendment activity. Documents obtained by the Committee and Select Subcommittee raise the prospect that Eventbrite and GoFundMe may have been in communication with FinCEN or other federal law-enforcement agencies about activity on Eventbrite and GoFundMe’s platform. 

Excerpts of the letter to Eventbrite read:

“The Committee and Select Subcommittee have obtained documents showing that following the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) distributed materials to financial institutions that, among other things, outlined the ‘typologies’ of various persons of interest and provided financial institutions with suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) for identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement, ostensibly to aid in investigations. These materials included a document recommending that financial institutions ‘search Zelle payment messages’ using  generic terms like ‘TRUMP,’ ‘MAGA,’ ‘America First,’ ‘PELOSI,’ ‘PENCE,’ ‘SCHUMER,’ as well as a document reflecting a ‘prior FinCEN analysis’ of ‘Lone Actor/Homegrown Violent Extremism Indicators.’ According to this analysis, FinCEN warned financial institutions of ‘extremism’ indicators that include ‘transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel to areas with no apparent purpose,’ or ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.’ In other words, the federal government, through FinCEN, urged large financial institutions to comb through their customers’ private transactions and report charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression.

“In addition, the Committee and Select Subcommittee have obtained documents showing that on January 18, 2021, FinCEN emailed financial institutions a list of ‘crowdfunding sites’ that included Eventbrite, GoFundMe, and Anedot, among others, and explained how financial institutions could use a ‘transaction reference’ to identify customers making certain transactions on crowdfunding sites. For example, in the email, FinCEN alerted financial institutions to customers’ use of Eventbrite, noting that ‘people have been observed using this site to post an event and sell tickets including bus tickets to the demonstrations.’ FinCEN noted how ‘Card Purchase[s]’ to events are findable using ‘the transaction reference ‘EB [the EVENT] with the phone number’ and detailed how individuals who purchased tickets to events in support of President Trump could be identified using the transaction reference, ‘EB MARCH FOR TR 801413720.’ FinCEN also provided a second method for identifying individuals using transaction references, writing: ‘[y]ou may see a Card Purchase with the transaction reference in the following format . . . [a Message or like a cause or candidate] with the phone number in the following format . . . .’ 

“Despite these transactions having no apparent nexus to criminal activity—and, in fact, relate to Americans exercising their First Amendment rights—FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors. This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with federal law enforcement, without legal process, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious concerns about the federal government’s potential abuses of Americans’ fundamental civil liberties.”

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.

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