A former ATF official who approved the botched Fast & Furious gun-running operation was allowed to double-dip on salary with the approval of his supervisors, according to an internal auditor’s report that adds to the troubles surrounding the embattled agency.
The report, released by the Justice Department’s inspector general last week, found three of William McMahon’s superiors “exercised poor judgment” in approving his use of leave to collect his government salary, even as he was working for JP Morgan, creating potential conflicts of interest on the agency’s financial investigations.
It’s the latest ding to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has faced probing questions over the botched Fast & Furious gun operation and is now under scrutiny for its storefront gun-sales sting operations.
ATF Director Todd Jones is slated to testify Wednesday to Congress about those storefront operations, known as Operation Fearless. The Milwaukee version of the operation saw about $35,000 in merchandise stolen from ATF agents, including an automatic rifle.
Mr. Jones is likely to be asked about a number of other issues as well, including Fast & Furious and his own senior leadership.
In the case of Mr. McMahon, the inspector general said he got approval for full-time outside employment even as he also asked to be put on paid leave.
He began working for JP Morgan on July 9, 2012, and didn’t have his leave from ATF canceled until more than two months later.
ATF spokeswoman Beth Gosselin said they have received the inspector general’s findings, but couldn’t say anything more about steps to be taken.
“We will review the report of investigation further and will take appropriate actions as necessary, consistent with applicable policies, laws and regulations,” she said.
Late last week a key figure in Fast & Furious was reprimanded by the Arizona Bar Association. Fast & Furious was the Arizona-based operation that saw ATF agents knowingly approve straw purchase gun sales only to see many weapons trafficked across the border and land in the hands of drug cartels.
The Arizona bar said Dennis Burke, who was the state’s U.S. attorney at the time of the operation, knowingly misled his superiors about his efforts to leak documents in order to try to shape coverage of Fast & Furious.
In addition to an official reprimand, the bar association ordered Mr. Burke to pay costs and fees associated with the investigation into his behavior.
Mr. Burke told the bar investigators that he believed the Justice Department wasn’t properly fighting back against attacks on Fast & Furious, which is why he leaked documents. He also said stress from a number of events, including the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, should be a mitigating factor.
The Arizona Republic, which reported on the reprimand, editorialized that Mr. Burke should have been praised instead. The newspaper said Mr. Burke, who resigned in 2011 just as the scandal was burgeoning, was made a scapegoat for problems in Washington.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, said Mr. Burke’s reprimand and his explanation for the leaks shows why the House needs to continue pursuing its contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has refused to turn over documents subpoenaed by Mr. Issa.
“These documents will shed light on the nature of the Department’s false denials of improper conduct and its response to Congress, including misconduct of which Dennis Burke was aware, that Attorney General Holder refused to discuss with Congress,” Mr. Issa said.