More Trouble For Chipman As ATF Agents Confirm Complaint About Racial Bias

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The already shaky nomination of gun control activist David Chipman as head of the ATF has run into even more trouble, with multiple ATF agents confirming to The Reload that the former ATF agent faced a formal complaint filed over racist comments allegedly made by Chipman regarding the promotion of African American employees.

As The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski reports:

The agents, who have decades of experience at the agency, told The Reload they heard the accusation that Chipman denigrated black ATF agents up for promotion. The officials said they heard about Chipman’s alleged comments before they were referenced in a recent lawsuit seeking the release of the complaint.

“He made some comments that he was surprised by the number of African Americans who have made it onto a specific promotional list,” a current ATF official told The Reload. “So, his insinuation was that they had to have cheated. Which is kind of despicable.”

A former ATF agent who worked directly with Chipman said he heard the same story.

“That one had to do with what’s called the assessment center, which would be to get promoted,’ the former agent told The Reload. “Somebody would have had to file a complaint against him if he were a supervisor making those statements.”

The current ATF official said the allegation ended his time in Detroit.

“He left Detroit because of that,” he said. “He did not leave Detroit on the best of terms. His reputation was that he was not nice to people.”

Chipman, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, acknowledged the existence of two EEOC complaints filed during his ATF employment, but refused to discuss details and claimed that both complaints had been resolved “without any finding of discrimination” or disciplinary action taking place as a result.

That may be what the official record shows, but now you’ve got multiple agents willing to say (at least under the condition of anonymity) that the real reason Chipman was removed from his position in Detroit was based on his alleged comments denigrating the ability of black agents to perform as well as their white counterparts.

These agents have good reasons for wanting to maintain their anonymity. According to one agent still on active duty with the ATF, there are grave concerns about reprisals for speaking up if Chipman ends up confirmed as permanent director of the agency.

“The concern with him is he’s got a reputation for being a bully,” the current official said. “And he also has a pretty well-founded reputation for being an activist when it comes to gun control.”

The agents worry Chipman will surround himself with other gun-control supporters instead of building a team with diverse viewpoints. They expressed concern he might even punish agents he doesn’t believe are on board with his vision by reassigning them to far-flung posts.

“If you’re not going to march to the beat of his drum, there is a concern that you’ll wind up somewhere,” the current agent said. “It’s not like when you work for a local police department where you find yourself in a new precinct on the other side of town. Here, you can find yourself in another part of the country or, even worse, on an island in one of our territories. That means uprooting your family, taking your kids out of school, and things like that.”

Be sure to read Gutowski’s entire story, which also gets into agents’ concerns about Chipman’s ability to damage the credibility of the ATF by turning into a subsidiary of the gun control lobby.

As we wrote about earlier today, a number of key Democratic senators are still not officially on board the Chipman bandwagon, and the longer the vote in the Senate is delayed, the more likely it becomes that additional stories like this one are going to come out; each one of them dealing body blows to the Biden administration’s narrative that Chipman is a professional and seasoned veteran of the agency who won’t let his personal views on gun control interfere with his job duties. It’s not just “the gun lobby” or the firearms industry objecting to Chipman’s nomination. There are active ATF agents who believe that if Chipman is confirmed it will make their job harder by damaging the relationship between the agency and the firearms industry, including gun store owners who are the ones most likely to alert the ATF to attempts by prohibited persons or straw buyers to get ahold of a gun.

Chipman never should have been nominated in the first place, but the Biden administration knew that with a bitterly divided Congress and razor-thin Democratic majorities in both chambers the executive branch was going to have to take the lead on guns, and the gun control lobby view Biden’s presidency as a golden opportunity to place one of their own at the top of the food chain in the agency overseeing the firearms industry and enforcing federal gun laws. Both the administration and their anti-gun allies calculated that Chipman could bring in the votes of the vast majority of Democrats as well as a few moderate Republicans, but Chipman’s own comments and anti-gun advocacy over the years have made him too toxic, even for moderates like Susan Collins or the retiring Pat Toomey.

Chipman’s confirmation rests on the ability of Biden and his anti-gun buddies to convince red state Democrats like Jon Tester and Joe Manchin cast their vote in support of the gun control advocate (and over the opposition of a majority of voters in their states), which will probably only result in a 50-50 deadlock but would allow Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote. That’s not going to play well in West Virginia or Montana, and frankly, it sounds like it would be a hard pill for a lot of ATF employees to swallow.

If Chipman hasn’t given these red-state Democrats a reason to vote for him yet, it’s hard to imagine he could say or do anything going forward to alleviate their concerns. The reasons to vote against Chipman, on the other hand, grow longer every day a vote is delayed.