Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding a second hearing for David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, amid reports that he made racist comments.
In a letter sent Thursday to committee Chairman Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, the senators pointed to a June news report claiming an anonymous ATF agent said Mr. Chipman made racially insensitive comments about Black agents being promoted in the Detroit Field Division.
Conservative outlet The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that in 2007 he said: “Wow, there were an unusually large number of African American agents that passed the exam this time. They must have been cheating.”
The senators brought up another article published Thursday by The Reload, which states two unnamed ATF agents, one current and one former agent, have corroborated the claim.
The conservative news outlet noted that it “has not been able to verify the veracity of the allegation Chipman made racist remarks, only that the allegation exists.”
The article also states agent Rick Vasquez said Mr. Chipman took a job as a special agent in Detroit because “nobody else would” and that an unnamed former agent said Mr. Chipman left because of the alleged comments.
The Republican lawmakers say the committee must first address the “alarming” comments Mr. Chipman is said to have made, and then look into whether “an important field assignment in Mr. Chipman’s career was one that he allegedly was both forced first to take and then to relinquish.”
“The first issue gets to Mr. Chipman’s character and the second gets to his effectiveness as a leader,” the letter states. “Both should be of paramount importance to the Judiciary Committee.”
They also called for the release of two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints filed against him, which he had testified “were resolved without any finding of discrimination and no disciplinary action was taken against me.”
Mr. Chipman, a longtime ATF agent, spent more than 20 years with the bureau until he retired in 2012. He currently serves as a senior policy adviser for Giffords, a gun control advocacy group founded by shooting survivor former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Arizona Democrat.
Mr. Chipman’s nomination has been in limbo since a split committee vote last month. The tie means the Senate must schedule a vote on whether to discharge him before they can advance his nomination.
“Because the Judiciary Committee still has Mr. Chipman’s nomination, it’s critical that we call him in for a public hearing to address these allegations before any move is made to advance his failed nomination to the floor,” the senators wrote.
Their letter comes one day after more than two dozen Republican state lawmakers in Montana sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, urging him to reject Mr. Chipman’s nomination.
“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 letter states.
The 25 state lawmakers also called on the Democratic senator to publicly denounce the nominee.
“Rejecting Mr. Chipman’s nomination should be an easy, no-brainer decision,” the legislators wrote. “We urge you to oppose his confirmation and announce your opposition without further delay.”
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