ATF official allegedly collects paid leave plus J.P. Morgan salary

Employee implicated in Fast and Furious is double dipping, lawmakers charge.

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official implicated in the Fast and Furious gun scandal is collecting paid leave plus a salary of at least six figures from J.P. Morgan, according to a letter from lawmakers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., received a tip that former Deputy Director for Field Operations William McMahon had been collecting two salaries, according to Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine. McMahon was implicated in the Justice Department’s failed Fast and Furious gun operation and stepped down from his position earlier this month but remained on paid leave, the lawmakers said.

In the letter to ATF acting director Todd Jones, the lawmakers requested additional details on the status of McMahon’s paid leave arrangement, his retirement eligibility, amount of unused sick leave and how his employment at J.P. Morgan came to be approved. A senior ATF official confirmed to the lawmakers in a phone call that McMahon’s “unusual arrangement” includes four to five months of extended leave and allows him to reach retirement eligibility while taking on other full-time employment with J.P. Morgan.

“ATF has essentially facilitated McMahon’s early retirement and ability to double dip for nearly half a year by receiving two full-time paychecks -- one from the taxpayer and one from the private sector,” Issa and Grassley wrote.

While the legality of McMahon’s leave arrangement and outside employment is unclear, “the fact that ATF management chose to authorize it is not,” the lawmakers said.

“Under any reading of the relevant personnel regulations, it appears that ATF management was under no obligation to approve this sort of arrangement,” the letter continues. “Given McMahon’s outsized role in the Fast and Furious scandal, the decision to approve an extended annual leave arrangement in order to attain pension eligibility and facilitate full-time, outside employment while still collecting a full-time salary at ATF raises a host of questions about both the propriety of the arrangement and the judgment of ATF management.”

A July report detailed McMahon’s role in Operation Fast and Furious, charging that he failed to read documents he was responsible for authorizing and gave false testimony regarding his role in authorizing wiretaps, according to the letter.

McMahon currently is serving as executive director of the Global Security and Innovations Group at J.P. Morgan in the Philippines. The lawmakers also will look into possible further links between ATF and J.P. Morgan; the letter requests further details on their policies regarding outside employment, including how often ATF has authorized similar arrangements. The letter requested that ATF respond to their queries no later than Sept. 4.

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