By Casey Sullivan and David Ingram
Feb 4 (Reuters) - Gary Grindler, a former high-ranking U.S.
Justice Department official who became embroiled in Operation
Fast and Furious, the failed gun-trafficking probe along the
U.S.-Mexico border, has rejoined his former law firm King &
Spalding, the firm said on Monday.
Grindler, 62, was acting deputy U.S. attorney general and
chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Holder, for most of his
four years at the Justice Department.
He returns to King & Spalding as a partner in Washington,
D.C., where he will specialize in government investigations with
a focus on financial fraud, health care and False Claims Act
cases, the firm said.
That is the same area of specialty Grindler had when he
worked at the firm as a partner between 2000 and 2009.
Grindler joins a practice group led by Christopher Wray, who
served as an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice
Department's Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005, where he
oversaw corporate fraud probes under the George W. Bush
Grindler announced his departure from the Justice Department
in December, in what aides said was part of regular staff
turnover as President Barack Obama prepared to begin a second
During his tenure at the Justice Department, Grindler was
criticized by congressional Republicans and a report by the
department's inspector general for his involvement in Operation
Fast and Furious.
The operation became a political scandal in Obama's first
term, causing the U.S. attorney in Arizona and some U.S. Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) officials to
In the operation, federal agents in Arizona with the ATF
failed to seize about 2,000 potentially illegal firearms as they
tried to build a case against traffickers who supplied Mexican
Grindler became aware of the operation in December 2010 when
two of the 2,000 guns were found at the scene of a U.S. border
agent's death, according to a September 2012 report from the
Justice Department's inspector general. However, he did not
immediately alert Holder about the two guns and their link to
Operation Fast and Furious, the report said.
"We believe that he should have informed the attorney
general as well as made an appropriate inquiry of ATF or the
U.S. Attorney's Office about the connection," the report said.
Holder did not find out about Fast and Furious until January
or February 2011, according to the same report.
When asked whether King & Spalding weighed Grindler's track
record in the Fast and Furious operation upon re-hiring him, a
firm spokesman declined to comment. Eleanor Hill, a King &
Spalding partner and former inspector general to the Defense
Department under President Bill Clinton, said she has "great
respect" for Grindler.
Grindler also was part of the team that helped negotiate the
$4.5 billion settlement filed in November between the federal
government and BP Plc over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion
and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Justice Department
Grindler did not immediately respond to a request for
comment through a spokesperson on Monday. Neither did Wray, the
head of the government investigations practice at King &
Spalding, or the managing partner of King & Spalding's
The 127-year-old King & Spalding is headquartered in Atlanta
with 800 lawyers in 17 offices worldwide. In 2011, the firm
grossed $781 million.
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