Monday, September 5, 2011

ATF Acting Director Melson Reassigned; B. Todd Jones Becomes ATF Acting Director

On Tuesday, Kenneth E. Melson announced his resignation as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). His resignation was effective on August 30.

Melson is stepping down to serve as a senior advisor with the Office of Legal Programs after facing heavy criticism in connection with the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking investigation. In his new position, he will focus on issues related to policy development in forensic science.

Melson is a former federal prosecutor in Alexandria, Va. and a longtime Department of Justice official. His departure from ATF is described as a mutual decision and officials say he is happy with his new role, as forensic science has been a longtime interest.

"Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues," said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. "As he moves into his new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades."

Holder announced that B. Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis, will replace Melson as acting director. Jones assumed the new position on Aug. 31, but will continue to serve in the capacity of U.S. Attorney as well.

"As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position," said Holder. "I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries."

Jones has served as U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota since 1998. Prior to his role as U.S. attorney, he served as first assistant U.S. attorney and assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota.

In an email to ATF staff on Tuesday, Jones wrote, "I know it's been a challenging time for this agency, and for many of you. As we move forward, we face a more important challenge than what's been going on outside of A.T.F. these last several months - what's going on inside A.T.F. We have important work to do and that is what I want you to focus on - and what I will be focused on in the coming months."

ATF has been without a permanent director since 2006, when Congress first required the position to be confirmed by the Senate.