The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said today that President Obama’s nomination of acting director B. Todd Jones to permanently lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is a slap in the face to Fast and Furious whistleblowers.
“Acting Director Jones was at the helm of ATF as many troubling problems from the fallout of Operation Fast and Furious festered,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). “His specific decisions on a number of Fast and Furious related issues raise concerns about his judgment and ability to lead the agency.”
“While I continue to believe that ATF needs to have a Senate confirmed Director, President Obama has a responsibility to find a nominee who can win confirmation and is not saddled by a string of bad decisions related to the agency’s greatest recent failure.”
Issa says Jones, a U.S. attorney who has served as acting director from Minneapolis since August 2011, hasn’t held key personnel accountable for Operation Fast and Furious and never publicly defending the whistleblowers in the scandal who faced retaliation for their actions.
Jones even taped a video for ATF employees to discourage whistleblowing, gave special treatment to a supervisor cited for negligence in Fast and Furious, and hasn’t been willing to engage with Congress in the Fast and Furious investigation, Issa says.
“Jones was first brought into the job of ATF Acting Director in the middle of the Fast and Furious scandal after Justice Department officials had falsely denied reckless conduct and allegations by his predecessor that there was an effort underway to shield the Department’s senior political appointees from the scandal,” he said. “Because of the numerous ATF mistakes during his tenure as Acting Director pertaining to Fast and Furious, his nomination is a slap in the face to the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Mexican citizens whose murder has been linked to Fast and Furious weapons, and ATF whistleblowers whom he failed to support.”
Issa joined a group of lawmakers — Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) — in a letter to Obama yesterday expressing concern that the president is trying to circumvent whistleblower protections added to the National Defense Authorization Act.