One of the top Republicans in the Senate wants more information on an allegation of racism levied against ATF director nominee David Chipman.
Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release an inspector general report from when Chipman accused a black agent of cheating on an assessment. In a letter, Grassley (R., Iowa) told the inspector general his office was concerned about a recent story published in The Reload where the agent accused Chipman of being motivated by a racial bias. The senator said his office had received additional whistleblower reports that back up the allegation.
“This new allegation is further corroboration of the despicable comments Mr. Chipman is alleged to have made,” Grassley told The Reload. “In fact, it goes even further, providing evidence that Mr. Chipman acted upon his racial animus to effectively end the career of a longtime law-enforcement agent.”
Grassley’s letter comes after a black agent told The Reload Chipman had falsely accused him of cheating during a promotion assessment. He noted the similarity between his situation and another complaint allegedly filed against Chipman for comments he made implying black agents must have cheated to pass a promotion assessment. The agent said he believes the accusation Chipman made against him was racially motivated.
“I believe it had to have been a bias,” the agent said. “My answers were just ‘too good.’ And my thought is he just said, ‘this black guy could not have answered this well if he wasn’t cheating.’”
DOJ confirmed Chipman alleged in 2007 an agent had cheated on an assessment, and the inspector general initiated an investigation over it. The department did not release any further details from the investigation. DOJ defended Chipman against the charge he made the accusation based on racial bias.
“Any allegations of bias against David Chipman are false,” Dena Iverson, a DOJ spokesperson, told The Reload, “and in the two times he was the subject of a workplace complaint over a 25-year career at the ATF, the claims were thoroughly investigated and found to be meritless.”
The agent said the years-long investigation ended up clearing his name but also sidelined him while it was being carried out and, ultimately, took a toll on his career. He said the report compiled at the end of the investigation would have the full details of what happened. DOJ said the report remains confidential, and it couldn’t release a copy to The Reload.
Grassley, who has also called for a second confirmation hearing for Chipman, asked DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz to provide the report and any other documents he may have relating to accusations Chipman made against other agents or accusations made against him.
“The growing number of allegations regarding Mr. Chipman require a timely response,” he said in the letter. “In order to fully evaluate Mr. Chipman’s nomination it is necessary to review all corresponding records and reports that were created regarding the investigation into this complaint.”
The Iowa senator also copied Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) on the letter. Durbin has yet to comment on the latest allegations against Chipman, but he has alread dismissed Republicans’ call for a second hearing after news of the initial comments broke. He implied the ATF sources behind the story were made up as part of a smear campaign against Chipman.
Grassley said he wants the report at the center of the latest allegations and plans to make every effort to obtain it.
“How much smoke does this Committee need before it puts out the fire?” he told The Reload. “The fact that the latest allegations supposedly resulted in an OIG report means that there is documentation supporting this claim in the possession of the Justice Department. I intend to get it.”