This was after ATF and the FBI confronted the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas and there was a change in ATF Director. For those too young to know, in 1993 the Branch Davidians shot and killed four ATF agents who were attempting to serve a search warrant on a residential compound in Waco, Texas. After the Sunday morning encounter, the Branch Davidians, headed by David Koresh, engaged in a long standoff with federal agents headed by the FBI. At the time, there was concern that women and children in the compound were being harmed. After a standoff of more than 90 days, and major national media attention, Attorney General Janet Reno gave the go-ahead for the FBI to enter the compound using tear gas and other techniques to end the siege. A fire erupted during the incursion and the entire compound, fueled by high winds that day, erupted in flames and burned to the ground. There was evidence that Koresh ordered the setting of the fires, in essence committing the inhabitants to a mass suicide. Subsequent to this, Congress held hearings, along with various investigations. Ultimately, Treasury issued a report, and certain high ATF officials stepped down. John Magaw became Director after the resignations. He had been the Director of the U.S. Secret Service. That was a difficult time at ATF, with a lot of uncertainty about the future of the Bureau, and media attention on the Waco situation. After that I served as the ATF CIO for two years, again at the request of Director Magaw, and later became Assistant Director for Alcohol and
about government employees being lazy or less than enthusiastic about what they do, are just that, myth and not fact.” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Tobacco in 1997. ATF by then had been completely reorganized. My job was to head up all alcohol and tobacco operations for ATF including tax collection, international cooperation on anti-smuggling efforts with other governments, and the like. In 2003, after the fall of the World Trade Center and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, ATF was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Justice and TTB was created as a new independent bureau in the Treasury Department. It was at that time that I was appointed Administrator.
What have you been doing since? I have been working as an independent consultant for alcohol and tobacco industry members, and as part of the Buckles Consulting Group.
business leaders were trying to do the right thing and at the same time comply with the rules.”
What did you learn about government during that time? That working for the government can be an incredibly rewarding career and was an opportunity for me to learn so much about how our government really works. I also learned that popular myths about government employees being lazy or less than enthusiastic about what they do, are just that, myth and not fact. I had the opportunity to work with so many great people who took their work very seriously and also considered their service as important to this country. I am so proud to have been a part of that and to have worked with so many loyal Americans.
What did you learn about the industry? That, for the most part, industry and business leaders were trying to do the right thing and at the same time comply with the rules. I met a lot of people in the industry while in government, and after that, who impressed me with their real desire to work within the rules.
What did you learn about people? Nothing I didn’t know before. It reinforced that there are so many different types of personalities, and adapting to their needs is a key ingredient to success in anything we do.
What were the best and worst parts about working for the government? The best was working with so many great people and also working with such a diverse set of technical areas of expertise. I loved my job because it never got boring and every day brought something different. I enjoy problem solving and even today, as a consultant, I encounter new problems to solve. The worst parts were having to accomplish the impossible on an ever-decreasing budget. Governments today are not adequately funded for what the public and businesses expect in terms of service. It’s really interesting and actually frustrating to hear about how certain elected officials want to reduce government spending but their constituents want more and better service. It is impossible to have a government that does more for its citizens without paying for that.
Any instances where a President acted directly and forcefully as to the Bureau?
Did you meet any famous people during your tenure?
In 1980, when Ronald Reagan became President, there was a concerted effort in the Administration to abolish ATF. Primarily the issue was President Reagan’s promise to abolish gun rules implemented in the 1960s. But ATF was saved at the eleventh hour by Congressional intervention. Nevertheless, from about 1980-1986, the ATF budget was cut substantially, effectively blunting efforts to enforce gun laws in a meaningful way. Also, at the time, in 1981 the new Reagan Administration rescinded ingredient labeling rules and regulations that were published just before the election.
Ernest Gallo and I met several times both at his office in Modesto and once in his home there, where he hosted a meeting of international wine officials. Mr. Gallo was an active and interested party in international trade negotiations that I was involved in and these meetings were helpful in understanding the wine industry’s goals in these trade talks at the time. This was the 1990s mostly. I also met several Treasury Secretaries since I had to occasionally ⟶
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.