B. Todd Jones (’83) Appointed Acting Director of ATF
AUGUST 31, 2011—The U.S. Department of Justice has named B. Todd Jones (’83), U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), effective today.
"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," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the appointment news release.
Jones will continue to serve as U.S. Attorney during his role with the ATF and has no plans to move to Washington. "I have a very good management team here in Minnesota," he said in an August 30 interview on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), noting that his team understands the importance of his new assignment. "I’m serving in this role as long as I’m needed," Jones said, but he doesn’t want the ATF job permanently.
The change in ATF leadership comes after a sting operation in the Southwest went wrong, potentially leaving hundreds of weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. In an August 30 St. Paul Pioneer Press article, Jones said the ATF is "a good agency with good agents tackling a very tough job that is highly politicized."
The ATF’s problems are intensified by lack of permanent leadership, Jones said on MPR. The agency has been without a confirmed director for almost six years; Jones is the fifth acting director. "That lack of stability takes its toll on an organization," he said. The weapons issue is only one part of the critical law-enforcement work the ATF does, and Jones hopes "to get the agency refocused on its key mission, which is public safety."
Jones was nominated U.S. Attorney for Minnesota by President Obama and confirmed in 2009, a position he also held in 1998 to 2001. He chairs the Justice Department’s Attorney General Advisory Committee.
He served active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps as both a trial defense counsel and prosecutor until 1989, and in 1991 he was recalled as a Marine Corps Reservist for Operation Desert Storm. He commanded a Military Police Company in 1993-95 and was honorably discharged in 1998. He was a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in 2001-08, a managing partner at Greene Espel in l994-97, and a senior associate attorney at Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly in 1989-92.
Jones takes over for Kenneth Melson, appointed ATF Acting Director in 2009 and now senior advisor on forensic science in the Office of Legal Policy.
A veteran federal prosecutor of drug trafficking, firearms, and violent-crime cases, Jones told MPR that he has seen the ATF in action and has "first-hand experience with what they can do." He plans to make use of his perspectives and those of the U.S. attorney community to get the ATF back on track. "I know I'm stepping into a tough spot," he said, "but it’s important to step up and do this."