More on Fast and Furious
From today's hearings before Issa's committee. B. Todd Jones, the new head of BATFE, is testifying:
ISSA: Thank you, Director Jones.
And I too want to reiterate the importance of the work that the men and women of the ATF do. And how much we appreciate the many who take a risk to do the right thing in the right way.
Let me go through a couple of questions, no surprise, the first one is a little related to Fast and Furious. Everybody at Department of Justice, from yourself to the attorney general, is living under the specter of Fast and Furious and how it discredited the men and women who do these jobs otherwise right.
Just to make the record clear, was anyone fired as a result of Fast and Furious?
JONES: Mr. Chairman, I can say publicly in this forum that everyone involved at ATF and the chain of command has either been disciplined or is no longer with the agency. ISSA: OK.
But, the answer of, fired, is no. Is that correct?
It's a yes or no -- it really is, Todd.
JONES: As a result of the inspector general's report, the answer is no.
ISSA: OK, so no one was fired. Some chose to retire. But let's go to a particular individual of interest, William Newell. The I.G. recommended he be removed, but in a settlement we have learned that he was demoted from SES [Senior Execute Service, which to be fair pays very well] to GS-13 [which pays nicely, but not very well, depending upon the "step"].
Did you approve that settlement?
JONES: Mr. Chairman, we have provided, in great detail to the committee, in a confidential document, the processes that we followed internally following the release of the I.G.'s report. It outlines, with some particularity, all of the individuals that were identified in that report and the actions taken.
I am not at liberty, in this public forum, to get into detail...
ISSA: Director -- director, you're here pursuant to a subpoena specifically because Congress does not afford you that choice on the Privacy Act by the statute itself.
But, more importantly, we know what occurred.
My question simply was one that you can answer. It has nothing to do with privacy. Did you make that decision?
JONES: The process at ATF involves professional responsibility board...
ISSA: Director, I understand. I'm only asking, did you influence or have an input into that call of his not being fired, his continuing to draw a paycheck and eventually retire at his high pay as an SES? [Federal retirement, under the old system anyway, is calculated on your "high three" years of employment salary]
JONES: I did not.
ISSA: You did not. Did your number two have that input?
JONES: The process involves the bureau deciding official and the ultimate decision maker is the deputy director, with appeal to me, should the employee not be satisfied when it comes to...
ISSA: Well, you were satisfied, and the number two made the call. Is that fair to say for the public record?
JONES: That's fair to say.
ISSA: OK. Similarly, the professional review board proposed that Hope MacAllister receive a 14-day suspension, which I consider pretty minor. This was reduced to a letter of reprimand. Would that also have gone through your deputy?
JONES: Again, Mr. Chair, the process is pretty well delineated in terms of the rights of the employees to grieve and the ultimate decision being made with my involvement with the senior executive service being a little different than anyone who is not a member of the SES ranks.
ISSA: OK, the professional review board proposed a David Voth be demoted to a non-supervisory special agent position. In settlement, he was demoted. Again, that would have been the same process you're alluding to.
JONES: There is a process, and it was followed.
ISSA: OK, so MacAllister, Voth, and Newell -- none of them were fired. All of them received certainly less than what the American people would expect.