Grassley, Issa concerns about whistleblower retaliation under investigation

Published: Jul 9, 2012

Inspector General reviewing ATF placement of Fast and Furious whistleblowers

WASHINGTON –The Inspector General for the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the situation described in a June 29 letter from Senator Chuck Grassley and Chairman Darrell Issa about two whistleblowers who testified before Congress about the Fast and Furious matter under the supervision of an individual who allegedly threatened to retaliate against them.

In a letter to Grassley and Issa, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said, “This Office takes seriously any situation where a whistleblower may face possible retaliation, and it is important that the Department ensure that whistleblowers do not suffer retaliation.  We have carefully reviewed the materials you provided, and we have initiated an investigation into this matter.”

In a letter sent last month to Horowitz, Grassley and Issa detailed inflammatory comments made last year about these two high profile whistleblowers, according to a direct eyewitness account.  Grassley and Issa sent the letter after learning the whistleblowers had been placed under the supervision of the ATF official who reportedly made the comments, Scot Thomasson.

Grassley and Issa said the alleged comments by Thomasson had been in public documents since May, and they asked the Inspector General to investigate how the ATF official has been admonished, how the ATF official was elevated and given such supervisory duties, and what steps are being taken to protect the whistleblowers from the campaign of retaliation the ATF official expressed a desire to conduct in his comments.

“It’s stunning that the ATF would allow placement of whistleblowers under the supervision of an individual who made the derisive and hostile comments reportedly made in this case,” Grassley said.  “The Inspector General’s immediate review and response is very necessary and appreciated.”

“Congress and the IG must continue to stand up for these individuals, who acted bravely when they saw wrongdoing at the ATF,” Issa said.  “In doing so, they exposed the reckless tactics that led to the death of a federal agent.  Protecting whistleblowers is absolutely critical — it is the right thing to do.  It also ensures that others will have the courage to come forward when they, too, see wrongdoing in federal agencies.”