Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), slammed President Joe Biden’s ATF nominee in a press release after a report from The Reload detailing agents’ concerns.
Citing The Reload‘s exclusive report on multiple ATF agents corroborating the existence of allegations nominee David Chipman made racist remarks while at the agency, the Republicans said Chipman should not be confirmed. Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) described the conduct as “disqualifying” and Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said, “Chipman has to go.” McConnel said the accusations of racist conduct, plus concerns that Chipman’s history of gun-control activism could negatively impact the ability of ATF agents to do their job, made him a bad pick for director.
“Anti-Gun Zealot David Chipman Is The Wrong Choice To Lead ATF,” read the title of McConnell’s official statement. “David Chipman’s long record of extreme anti-gun activism and disparaging comments about law-abiding gun owners, coupled with concerns about his gehavior from current and former ATF officials, demonstrate why his ‘unusually divisive’ nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has generated so much opposition.”
Cotton said The Reload‘s report “raises still more questions about Biden’s unfit nominee to lead the ATF.” Cruz chastised Democrats for not taking more interest in the allegations.
“Do any Dems care about the complaint filed against Biden ATF nominee David Chipman alleging that he made racist remarks in his job?” Cruz said. “Or is Dems’ desire to be gun grabbers & undermine the Second Amendment the only priority they care about?”
Chipman’s nomination has been in limbo since his May confirmation hearing. Gun-control advocates, including Giffords where he currently works, cheered his nomination but it quickly met intense opposition from gun-rights advocates and the gun industry alike. Chipman’s public support for new gun restrictions and even bans that go beyond what most Democratic senators support themselves and have been a sticking point for some. His nomination came under fresh scrutiny following new revelations that he may have made racist comments while working in ATF’s Detroit office, in addition to concerns from agents that he could harm their work.
Several moderate Democrats, who will ultimately decide whether he’s confirmed, have yet to decide on whether they’ll support Chipman. Senators Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Angus King (I., Maine), and Jon Tester (D., Mont.) have yet to publicly take a position on how they will vote. Because of that, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has yet to schedule a floor vote to confirm Chipman.
Senator Manchin and Senator King did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations against Chipman. Roy Lowenstein, Senator Tester’s press secretary, said the Montana Democrat’s position hasn’t changed. He referred The Reload to a previous statement indicating the senator is still reviewing Chipman’s record.
“As a proud gun owner, Senator Tester believes ATF needs a strong leader to support the agency’s law enforcement mission,” Loewenstein said in May. “Senator Tester will continue to review David Chipman’s record and testimony to ensure he will support our brave law enforcement officers and respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights.”
Tester is facing new pressure from home to reject Chipman. Every member of the Republican leadership in Montana’s state house and senate signed a letter on Thursday telling him to vote no.
“Mr. Chipman’s history as a lobbyist for radical gun control groups and support for unconstitutional firearm bans make it glaringly obvious he will not respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights and will actively work to infringe upon them,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “Rejecting Mr. Chipman’s nomination should be an easy, no-brainer decision. We urge you to oppose his confirmation and announce your opposition without further delay.”