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Grassley: Whistleblowers Allege ATF Nominee David Chipman Racially Targeted A Black DOJ Employee

David Chipman

Sen. Chuck Grassley said new whistleblower reports corroborate allegations that David Chipman, Biden’s nominee to be director of the ATF, engaged in racial bias.


Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said new whistleblower reports corroborate allegations that David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), engaged in racial bias. 

According to a letter Grassley sent to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday, these new whistleblower reports suggest Chipman “has exhibited a pattern of extremely concerning racially biased behavior,” citing an instance in which Chipman filed a complaint at DOJ that triggered “an unwarranted investigation into an African American employee who he alleged, without evidence, cheated on an exam to become a GS-15.” 

“The only indication that the examinee had cheated was that his answers to the hypothetical questions posed by the panel were ‘just too good,’” Grassley wrote.

With Chipman’s alleged targeting, whistleblowers claim the ensuing investigation significantly impeded the African American ATF employee’s career. While under investigation, the employee was reportedly barred from commendations and promotion. 

Grassley says these allegations “provid[e] evidence that Mr. Chipman acted upon alleged racial animus to effectively end the career of a longtime law-enforcement agent,” but he emphasizes that “whistleblowers report … the DOJ OIG acted appropriately and conducted a thorough investigation into the complaint and provided the targeted ATF employee with a final letter of clearance.”

Due to the “growing number of allegations” concerning Chipman, Grassley argues that more information is necessary to “fully evaluate” Chipman’s nomination. As ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley is demanding more records from Horowitz, as well as a prompt response to questions concerning Chipman’s history of racial bias. 

Grassley’s letter comes amid continued controversy over Chipman’s nomination. As Federalist Intern Gabe Kaminsky reported earlier this summer, Chipman supports banning AR-15s and called for an “assault weapons” ban, during a 2019 House Judiciary Committee hearing. 

According to his own words, Chipman also wants to override Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, in addition to their Second Amendment rights:

We have to do more to monitor hate speech on the internet. But we also have to do more to curb that same speech being presented by our president and other elected public officials. The FBI, other federal agencies, have a tough job responding to these threats when they don’t currently have the authority to remove weaponry just because people are saying hateful things.

In response to Chipman’s nomination, twenty-two wildlife conservation organizations released a letter in June, opposing Chipman’s nomination “due to ‘his long record of radical anti-firearm statements and actions.’” Grassley himself has similarly stated that “putting a committed gun control proponent like Mr. Chipman in charge of ATF [i]s like putting …Antifa in charge of the Portland Police Department.”

Chipman has a documented history of anti-gun advocacy, but Grassley’s letter alleges that the nominee might also have a history of racial animus.