January 19, 2024

Scott Demands Answers Following Reports of Political Targeting by Treasury Department and Financial Institutions

Washington, D.C. – Following recent reports that the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) instructed financial institutions to infringe on Americans’ privacy and surveil their customers’ transactions using politically charged search terms, Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is using his position as the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to demand answers. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki, Ranking Member Scott requests answers to a number of questions surrounding the Department of Treasury and FinCEN’s role in the reported soliciting of personal financial data. To read the full letter and list of questions, click here.

Ranking Member Scott wrote, “These allegations, if true, represent a flagrant violation of Americans’ privacy and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process. According to recent news reports, Treasury provided materials to financial institutions instructing them to search and filter Americans’ transaction-level financial data using specific keywords, search terms, and particular merchant category codes (MCC) to aid federal law enforcement in identifying persons of interest.  Further, these instructions allegedly recommended financial institutions search Zelle payment messages for politically charged terms, such as ‘Trump’ and ‘MAGA,’ as well as transactions that could indicate the legal purchase of a firearm, such as transactions with a MCC for ‘Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies.’”

Ranking Member Scott continued, “Federal government efforts to target individuals and entities based on their political views is a blatant and egregious violation of our Constitution. Additionally, reported actions like these disrupt confidence in federal law enforcement and raise significant questions regarding the independence of federal financial regulators.”