(CNSNews.com) – Dennis K. Burke, who as a lawyer for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1990s was a key player behind the enactment of the 1994 assault-weapons ban, and who then went on to become Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s chief of staff, and a contributor to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential primary campaign, and then a member of Obama's transition team focusing on border-enforcement issues, ended up in the Obama administration as the U.S. attorney in Arizona responsible for overseeing Operation Fast and Furious.
When Obama nominated Burke to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Burke told the Arizona Capitol Times he believed he understood what the president and his attorney general wanted him to do.
"There’s clearly been direction provided already by President Obama and Attorney General Holder as to what they want to be doing, and this is an office that is at the center of the issues of border enforcement,” said Burke.
Over the course of several days, CNSNews.com left multiple telephone messages with Burke for comment on this story. He did not respond.
Dennis K. Burke has had a long career working as an aide and political appointee to Democratic elected officials. From 1989 to 1994, he was a counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, working in that capacity for several years on an assault-weapons ban, which was finally enacted on Sept. 13, 1994 as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. That act expired on Sept. 13, 2004. (See NYT: Dennis Burke, Sen. DeConcini, Weapons Ban.pdf)
From 1994-95, Burke served in the Clinton Justice Department in the Office of Legislative Affairs, and in 1997-99, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona.
From 1999 to 2003, Burke was chief deputy and special assistant to Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano.
In 2003, when Napolitano became governor, Burke became her chief of staff. He stayed in that job until the fall of 2008, when he left to help Democratic political campaigns, including then-Sen. Obama’s presidential campaign.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that on Jan. 9, 2008, while working as Gov. Napolitano’s chief of staff, Burke contributed $2,000 to then-Sen Obama’s presidential primary campaign. Since 1997, according to FEC records, Burke has contributed a total of $16,350 to various Democratic candidates.
After Obama was elected in November 2008, Burke joined his presidential transition team, serving on the Immigration Policy Working Group.
Eight days before Obama’s inauguration, on Jan. 12, 2009--while Burke was working on the transition team--Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. At that meeting, Obama “pledged” to take action to stop the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico.