Meet the ATF’s New Acting Director: B. Todd Jones

The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday the appointment of U.S. Attorney, from the District of Minnesota, B. Todd Jones to serve as Acting Director (AD) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in the wake of former Acting Director Kenneth Melson’s resignation.  Many believe Melson resigned due to mounting political pressure stemming from the failed gun-walking Operation: Fast & Furious.

In a press release, Attorney General Eric Holder commented on Jones’ capacity to serve as the interim AD, “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, 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.”  

When asked by Twincities.com journalist Ruben Rosario, why he answered the call, Jones cited his affinity for Eric Holder and said, “I can’t explain it.  I enjoy public service and helping people.  People take public safety for granted and government for granted until something happens and they need it and want it there.” 

Jones also told Rosario that public service is “in his blood.”  So much so that in 2009 he took a pay cut and left a cushy job at a renowned Minneapolis law firm, Robins, Kaplan, Miller, & Ciresi to assume his role as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, according to Rosario’s article. 

As far as his experience related to ATF matters, the DOJ press release mentioned that, “Jones conducted grand jury investigations and has been the lead trial lawyer in many federal prosecutions involving drug trafficking, firearms, financial fraud and violent crime.” 

Although Jones is an experienced lawyer and a military veteran, he commanded the 4th Marine Division’s Military Police Company (see resume below); many believe he is walking into a firestorm at the ATF in which no experience could sufficiently prepare one for.  The ATF is still under heavy scrutiny from congressional investigators.   Meanwhile, more and more firearms linked to Operation: Fast & Furious are showing up at violent crime scenes. 

“There were mistakes made, but it doesn’t justify the ATF being kicked while they are down,” Jones told Rosario. “They have a tough mission, but the politics of guns won’t let it succeed.”

Here is a brief snapshot of Jones’ resume, courtesy of the DOJ and Twincities.com

Age: 54, born in Cincinnati

Education: Bachelor of arts, political science, Macalester College in St. Paul; law degree, University of Minnesota

Military: Served active duty in the Marines until 1989; recalled in 1991 as a Marine Corps Reservist during first Persian Gulf war; commanded the 4th Marine Division’s Military Police Company.

Professional: Senior associate attorney, Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly in Minneapolis, 1989-92; managing partner, Greene Espel in Minneapolis, l994-97; assistant U.S. attorney for Minnesota, 1997; U.S. attorney for Minnesota, 1998-2001; partner, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in Minneapolis, 2001-08; U.S. attorney for Minnesota, 2009-present.