Tuesday, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley expressed further concerns about today's nomination vote on the Senate floor and again pointed out that Jones, like many of President Obama's nominees, is in the middle of an ongoing investigation involving criminal misconduct.
"Acting Director Jones was at the helm of ATF as many troubling problems from the fallout of Operation Fast and Furious festered,” said Issa. “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 said in a statement. “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.”
Over the last few months, I have observed an alarming pattern. Too often, this administration submits subpar nominees while simultaneously obstructing any legitimate oversight by this Congress. Sadly, many of my colleagues appear to be choosing to ignore any effort to correct it. We saw how Mr. Perez, an Assistant Attorney General, brokered an unwritten deal that cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. My colleagues on the other side largely ignored the shady deal. Mr. Perez tried to cover his tracks, but got caught leaving a voicemail that was recorded. Even then, my colleagues dismissed it. And when he was caught concealing evidence of the deal on his personal email accounts, he defied a lawfully issued congressional subpoena and refused to turn over the documentation. Incredibly, his defiance was ignored. Worse yet, for all this rotten behavior, the Senate rewarded him with a promotion by confirming him as Secretary of Labor.Members of the anonymous whistleblower website CleanUpATF.org, where the Fast and Furious scandal was first discussed, aren't exactly happy with the Jones appointment and say he has no intention of rebuilding ATF's credibility or renewing the bureau's commitment to agents. He's known as a bureaucrat, not as a top law enforcement officer.
We see the same thing occurring with the nomination of Mr. Mayorkas, the nominee for the number two position at the Department of Homeland Security. He is the target of an open investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. The IG is investigating allegations that the nominee procured a visa as a political favor, even though the visa was properly rejected. Incredibly, the Senate committee pressed on with the hearing despite unanimous objection from the minority for moving forward in the midst of an open investigation.
That is incredible to me: a Senate committee would move forward with a nominee who has an open investigation into the nominee’s conduct. I wish this were a unique occurrence. But based on recent experience in the Judiciary Committee, it isn’t an isolated event. This is exactly what happened recently in the Senate Judiciary Committee with respect to Mr. B. Todd Jones, the nominee to be Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Earlier this year, I learned that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was investigating Mr. Jones in a complaint that he retaliated against a whistleblower in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.
In the Judiciary Committee, it has been the committee’s practice that when a nominee is the subject of an open investigation, the committee generally does not move forward until the issues are resolved. Because of this practice, I objected to holding his hearing last month and requested the hearing be postponed to allow the investigation finish.
My request was denied. Then, I objected to putting him on the committee agenda until the non-partisan investigation was complete. Again, my request was rejected. And now, despite the fact there remains an open complaint of whistleblower retaliation against Mr. Jones before the Office of Special Counsel, his nomination will soon be considered by the full Senate.