'Fast and Furious' ATF Official Granted Paid Leave to Take 6-Figure Job at JP Morgan

August 23, 2012 - 6:24 AM

Issa

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversigh and Government Reform Committee (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The long-awaited inspector general's report on the Justice Department's botched gun-running scheme is finished, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

But along with that news comes more questions: Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are demanding to know why a top ATF official involved in Operation Fast and Furious remains on paid leave from ATF -- while simultaneously drawing a six-figure salary from J.P. Morgan, a major investment bank.

In a letter to the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Issa and Grassley asked why the Justice Department would approve such a special arrangement for Bill McMahon.

“Under any reading of the relevant personnel regulations, it appears that ATF management was under no obligation to approve this sort of arrangement,” wrote Issa and Grassley. “Given McMahon’s outsized role in the Fast and Furious scandal, the decision to approve an extended annual leave arrangement in order to attain pension eligibility and facilitate full-time, outside employment while still collecting a full-time salary at ATF raises a host of questions about both the propriety of the arrangement and the judgment of ATF management.”

Issa and Grassley say the ATF has made it possible for McMahon to "double dip for nearly half a year by receiving two full-time paychecks -- one from the taxpayer and one from the private sector."

They  noted that the treatment of McMahon is "in sharp contrast" to how the ATF has treated whistleblowers such as Special Agent John Dodson, "who is told he must wait until the Inspector General’s report is complete before the agency will even consider his simple request for a statement retracting the false statements made about him by agency leadership.”

Issa and Grassley noted that ATF approved the arrangement for McMahom before the Justice Department inspector general finished his report on the failed gun tracking scheme.

As for the IG report examining Fast and Furious, as well as the Justice Department's knowledge of and response to it, Issa said the report is done:

"We know that the IG report is finished, we know that it's at Justice, and we know that we can't see it. We're hoping, though, that they will release it," Issa told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday.

Issa said he's "positive" that the IG's report "is going to say the same thing our report has said, which is -- this is somebody (Bill McMahon) who is responsible for and signed documents that he told our committee he didn't see, didn't know about. Now, the only question is -- did he not read them and sign them?"

"We're dealing with somebody who should have been fired from ATF," Issa added.

According to the final congressional report on Fast and Furious, William McMahon was a supervisor at ATF headquarters who served as a "crucial link" between ATF headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division.

"He received a wealth of information about Fast and Furious” -- including the fact that straw purchasers had bought over 900 firearms, many of which ended up in Mexico -- "but did not view it as his role as supervisor to ask questions about events in the field. He has publicly admitted to having failed in his duty to read information presented to him about the case."

The report says McMahon rubber stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them.

McMahon also "gave false testimony to Congress about signing applications for wiretap intercepts in Fast and Furious," the report says.

Operation Fast and Furious began in the fall of 2009 as part of a plan to track guns illegally purchased in the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. The ATF lost track of most of the 2,000 weapons that were allowed to "walk" into Mexico, and two of the straw-purchased guns ended up at the scene of a U.S. border agent's murder.

(Issa told Fox News that news of McMahon's double-dipping will produce "more outrage for the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.)

According to the final congressional report, "From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy."

Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has accused Attorney General Eric Holder and other Justice Department officials of undermining his investigation into Fast and Furious.