Edgar A. Domenech says he thought Justice Department officials would welcome information about mismanagement at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Instead, the 23-year ATF veteran says, Justice officials ignored his complaints and later retaliated against him by demoting him, denying him a bonus and attempting to give him a poor job review.
“I realized I was committing career suicide at the time, but I felt I had a moral obligation as the deputy director to protect the agency and the men and women of the agency,” Domenech said in an interview yesterday. “In retrospect, I was naive to believe that the department would welcome my honesty.”
Domenech filed a 13-page complaint yesterday with the Office of Special Counsel, saying that ATF and the Justice Department punished him for raising questions about the performance of former ATF director Carl J. Truscott, who resigned in August 2006 while under investigation for alleged financial mismanagement.
Domenech first raised complaints about Truscott’s performance in December 2005 with William Mercer, then principal associate deputy attorney general, who later would be a pivotal figure in the controversy over the dismissal of the federal prosecutors.
Mercer and another official said Truscott “appeared to be in over his head, but since his name came directly from the White House, there was little that could be done about the situation,” according to the complaint. Several months later, Domenech said, Mercer dismissed complaints about Truscott as coming from “disgruntled career staff.”
After Truscott left, Domenech reversed a decision by Truscott to include an engraved quotation from Bush at the entrance to the new ATF headquarters in Washington.