Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., reacted angrily to President Obama’s decision to nominate B. Todd Jones, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to be permanent director. Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called the decision a “slap in the face” given the acting director’s connection to the “Fast and Furious” scandal.
In a statement emailed to reporters, Issa said:
Acting Director Jones was at the helm of ATF as many troubling problems from the fallout of Operation Fast and Furious festered. 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.
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. 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.
Jones has been running the ATF since August, 2011. He replaced Kenneth Melson as head after the latter resigned and was reassigned in the midst of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. The agency has not had a permanent director for six years.
In a video sent to ATF employees last year, Jones threatened serious consequences for any staffers found talking to the press about the scandal without the consent of the agency leadership: “[I]f you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate ways to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences.” Republicans said he was trying to scare off any potential whistleblowers.