Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who Is Andrew Traver?

Note: Much of this was written two months ago. Yesterday, Obama nominated Traver to be the Director of ATF.

With the pressure from the Brady Campaign along with editorials in the New York Times, the Obama Administration is being pushed to name a permanent Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. ATF has not had a permanent Director since Carl Truscott who resigned in 2006. The leading candidate seems to be Andrew Traver who is currently the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the ATF's Chicago Field Division.(Traver was nominated yesterday)

Traver at a 2008 news conference with then-Rep. Mark Kirk

I've printed speculation about Traver being the leading candidate here and here. According to my tracking software for this blog, I have had numerous visitors from the Department of Justice doing a Google search using "Andrew Traver ATF". I even had a visitor about two weeks ago (now two months ago) from the Executive Office of the President searching for what was being said about ATF and a new Director. A screen shot of that visit can be seen here. Traver has also been mentioned frequently on the dissident ATF insider's website CleanUpATF as being the defacto candidate for Director. (And now is the actual candidate.)

So who is Andrew Traver and why should we care?

As noted above, Traver is the SAC of the ATF's Chicago Field Division. He is an Illinois native and a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a degree in Criminal Justice (summa cum laude). After college, he was commissioned as a Naval officer through Officer Candidate School and served as a gunnery officer on USS Benjamin Stoddard, DDG-22. Upon leaving the Navy in 1987, he joined ATF as a Special Agent.

His ATF career to date is as follows:

  • 1987 - Chicago Field Division, Criminal Investigator and a member of the Entry Control Team.
  • 1993 - Philadelphia Field Division, Group Supervisor
  • 1998 - Assigned to ATF Headquarters, Washington, DC
  • 2000 - Assistant Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Field Division
  • 2002 - Assistant Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Division
  • 2004 - Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Division
  • 2006 - Promoted to Senior Executive Service, still SAC, Chicago Field Division
Personal Life

Traver is married and has three sons in their early to mid teens. He and his family currently live in the Chicago suburb of Naperville.

Traver is a prostate cancer survivor and it seems to have had a profound impact on him as one would well imagine. In 2008, at the age of 44, he was diagnosed with stage T2 prostate cancer. He ended up having a radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) at the Mayo Clinic. Post-surgery and recovery, Traver became active in ZERO- The Project to End Prostate Cancer. He has done presentations for them and has urged all the male agents in his Field Division to be tested.

In addition to his work with ZERO, Traver is the Veterans Outreach Coordinator in the Chicago area for The Mission Continues. This is an organization that works with and supports wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.

From a story about his work with ZERO:
Andrew’s personal and professional relationships with Congressmen Mark Kirk and Jesse Jackson Jr., and Ken Bennett, state director to then-Senator Barack Obama, figured heavily into his recovery. All three men closely followed Andrew’s ordeal from initial diagnosis through the first post-RRP follow up visit to Mayo. He received telephone calls from Congressmen Jackson and Kirk themselves while at Mayo and while recuperating at home. Just prior to and again shortly after his surgery, Andrew and Mr. Bennett met for morale and spiritually uplifting lunches.
 Connections to Joyce Foundation

Traver has significant connections to projects of the notoriously anti-gun Joyce Foundation. The Joyce Foundation provided $675,000 in funding for the International Association of Chiefs of Police - IACP - to put on the 2007 Great Lakes Summit on Gun Violence. Traver was a participant in this meeting along with such gun control notables as Gary Wintemute, Director of UC-Davis' Violence Prevention Research Program, Nina Vinik and Robyn Thomas of the Legal Community Against Violence, and David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health. There were also a number of representatives from some of the local gun control organizations and a selection of anti-gun politicians and police chiefs including Mayor Richard Daley.

It is important to note that Traver was not a mere attendee at this meeting, he is listed as an advisor to it along with others like Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center and Nina Vinik of LCAV. The acknowledgments thanks the advisers who "worked tirelessly to help us design and accomplish a powerful policy summit by attending many meetings and events and by voicing their invaluable counsel as we moved forward with this important initiative."

Out of this conference came a report entitled Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities. Contributors to the report included Tom Diaz mentioned above and Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center. The report made a number of recommendations which, to put it mildly, are anathema to those who believe in gun rights. Included in the recommendations were:
  • Requiring that all gun sales take place through Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders with mandatory background checks
  • Enacting an effective ban on military-style assault weapons, armor-piercing handgun ammunition, .50 caliber sniper rifles and other weapons that enable criminals to outgun law enforcement
  • Repealing the Tiahrt Amendment, which hinders investigation of illegal gun trafficking
  • Destroying guns that come into police possession once their law enforcement use has ended
  • Mandating safe storage of firearms by private citizens and providing safe facilities where gun owners can store their weapons
  • Mandating reporting of lost and stolen firearms
  • Develop a best practices protocol for voluntary gun surrender programs
  • Congress should restore funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program for state, local and tribal agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of gun trafficking and gun violence
  • The federal government should increase funding to ATF for personnel and technical assistance to combat gun violence
  • Congress should enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry
 Opinion of Traver within ATF

CleanUpATF.org is a forum for dissident ATF agents and staff to vent their frustrations with the organization and with management. Reading the comments there on a regular basis gives you an idea of what the agents in the field think. Their comments on Traver are both revealing and discouraging.
Word is the Vetting process found some pretty scary skeletons in Mr. Travers closet. We are in trouble if this is true. Hopefully Mr. Obama has an alternate plan or we are done. Another 6 months w/o a Director and we will all be carrying Homeland security badges.Word is Mr. Traver has some issues with the truth. More to follow. Guess Steve Martin will be retiring after all. (Oct. 11)

Somebody explain The Andy Traver selection please.Everyone that has worked with him has the same opinion. A nice guy, as vanilla as they come and a marginal performer at every level of his career. The only plus being championed is "at least he's a gun toter". In other words, our first AGENT Director. Seriously? We have 2500 agents many of whom are quiet legends, to include reitred prior "gun toters". With all due respect he had ONLY 2 ASACs under his command, and one was driving a Government owned Cadillac and he DIDN'T notice? She abused her authority and misappropriated funds and is still an ASAC? (Sept 30)

Hearings into ATFs regulatory functions cancelled with allegations looming that Chief Counsels office knowingly and willfully have tried to circumvent Federal law and artificially impact statutory import procedures. If Mr. Melson cannot reign in the Executive leadership with his vast education and experience, what makes anybody think Andy Traver is more capable? (Sept 15)

Somebody please advise when and where Traver had ever been battle tested or command tested? Why is Jim Cavanaugh chiming in on ever commentary? SAC Traver is a decent man but was at best a marginal agent with limited street time, a borderline non-committal supervisor and a non-descript manager. He is middle of the road and doesn't have an opinion ATF has not told him he was allowed to have. Director? Seriously Mr Obama and Holder? (Aug. 4)

View PostDoc Holiday, on 08 July 2010 - 01:13 PM, said:
Very marginal agent, uninspiring manager. Nuff said. Great guy to have as a neighbor, but has never had an original idea and doesn't have an opinion that he hasn't cleared with superiors.
Is this going to be an infusion of Chicago style politics into ATF management? (July 8)

Heard the same thing. Grapevine has it that he was really kissing up to Obama or his folks before and after the election and then strutting around about how he was going to be the next Director.
I have to wonder if he knows Blago. (July 8)

You can add Andy Traver, in Chicago to that list of young, incompetent SAC's at the age of 40ish. Here is a recent example of his "leadership"! Chicago just held a Fantasy Agent Draft! They took approximately 75% of the Agents, only the ones located in the Chicago land area (because we can't afford to move anyone) and moved them from group to group based on their popularity with a Supervisor! They even had a pre-draft meeting where the Supervisors were told the rules and order of which they were to make their selections! The Supervisors were able to "protect" 1-2 of their favorite agents (read between the lines: good-old boy-club). The dry erase board went into overdrive as the Supervisors threw agents under the bus and argued with other Supervisors in-order to trade agents! It was the most unprofessional processes you can imagine. Traver threaten discipline on any Supervisor who leaked what actually went on inside the trades! Yet, Traver, his front office team and supervisors thought it was a great idea. At the same time, Traver had his Supervisors meeting where he basically tore up HQ's and showed his continued disdain and lack of respect for all his bosses. Yet, he wonders why not one of his management team respects him. For that matter, none of Andy's counterparts (SAC's) respects him. He leads by example...No interest in ATF nor any respect for bosses! If only the agents could get a dry erase board and select their Supervisors, ASAC's and SAC. I bet the only survivor would be the Supervisor who just returned from exile, Fargo North Dakota. If only someone in HQ's gave a damn about the sinking ship in Chicago, they would clear out the front office and all participating Supervisor in this fantasy draft!! (Oct 21, 2009)

Traver has been the rumored candidate for the Director of ATF from the moment that Obama was elected and now is the nominee in fact. He has been in bed with the anti-gun forces including the Joyce Foundation since the moment he became the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division. As seen by the comments above, he is not widely respected by the ATF field who consider him a nice enough guy but marginal when he was in the field and even more marginal as a manager.

Traver makes a nice personal interest story and I'm glad his cancer is in remission. That said, I don't want someone like him in charge of ATF and I sincerely doubt he would clean out the culture of corruption that seems to exist in ATF's management. It is time for the Senate to just say no.

UPDATE: Other blog's take on Traver

The Truth About Guns plus this earlier post

Sipsey Street Irregulars (who first broke the story back in July)


Armed and Safe

St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner

National Gun Rights Examiner

Void Where Prohibited


Extrano's Alley 

Eyes Never Closed plus this

Of Arms and the Law

Sharp As A Marble 

View From North Central Idaho

The Breda Fallacy


  1. Very well done. I updated my St. Louis GRE piece today, with a link to this.

  2. Kurt - Thanks. I put a link to the STL GRE up earlier.

  3. Yeah--saw that link (actually, I had meant to thank you for that in my previous comment, and then forgot). I really do regret somehow having failed to notice your work earlier. You're on the must-read list.

  4. Kurt - Thanks. Lately it seems I've been on the DOJ's must read list!

    As for having not seen me earlier, this blog is only six months old.

  5. Is he going to ban twin barrel automatic 3" 50s for civilian use? That might not do too much damage. I think giving up 16" Naval guns for civilian use might not be a serious hardship.

  6. Not that it matters overall to the post, but the UC Davis guy is Garen Wintemute.

  7. @John S: Thanks for the correction. My spelling suffers when I type fast!

  8. Another that doesn't understand "Shall Not Be Infringed".

  9. I'll bet his soggy Depends cause him much irritation.

  10. From watching the performance of the head domestic in charge he always has more than one stick in the fire so my first thought is what is he trying to distract us from with such an outrageous action ?? He usually has his way with us on both or more counts but these days people are watching closer.. If this clown gets the job gun buys will skyrocket along with ammo ..and rightly so.

  11. Regardless of how any of you feel , it's not your right to infringe on anothers life . So why do appoint a man who has a stand against guns and just wants to be the next "strong arm of the law" . This is disgusting to people like me who bring no harm to others and respect them, I simply find weapons a fascinating part of history and really feel that we shouldn't be banned from following our interest.

    I don't hunt , i'm not a fanatical person . I'm just a respectful 21 year old that feels like the world is being quite immature fearing guns. Also realize the right to bare arms was intentionally put there just like your freedom of speech and search and seizure right.

    People should not be shunned from guns, i think like everything else you learn about them instead of fearing them. Somebody that has experience and knowledge of firearms is not going to point a loaded gun at somebody unless there's a damn good threat. think about college shootings. you think those kids would have shot so many people if the other students could have defended thereselves ?

  12. I served on the Benjamin Stoddert from 1986 to 1990 and was a member of the security force the entire tour of duty,...I knew every gunnery and weapons officer onboard and this man never served while I was stationed there. I have had discussions with other sailors on the Benjamin Stoddert on the facebook page for DDG 22 who were there before and after and No one has ever heard of this man,....he is a Liar and a phony,....he should fit right in in Washington

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