By David Codrea
USA -(Ammoland.com)- The former owner of National Survival Store in Las Vegas alleges multiple improprieties resulting from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives oversight, and his protracted quest for answers is stalled without an enforceable official inquiry.
Edward Mark Felix’s story is complex, ranging from allegations of being directed to allow straw purchases similarly to methods revealed from Operation Fast and Furious, to claims of stolen guns, to being squeezed out of his store, to FFL renewal irregularities, to claims of having illegal tracking devices placed on his car, and more. He has been trying to gain attention and an investigation into his claims for years, with extremely limited results and plenty of stonewalling by those who could provide the clarification he seeks, but won’t.
Getting approached by people with seemingly outrageous claims is something I regularly experience. In most cases, there’s little that can be done, as the stories are invariably subjective, long on allegations, short on documentation, and the time and resources just aren’t there for a freelancer to do all the needed digging and verification. Matters are further complicated when legal issues are involved.
That’s much of the case with the National Survival Store saga, with one important difference that could open the whole thing up for scrutiny: There is an audit trail via bank records, and those could not only open ATF practices employed in Felix’s case up for Congressional investigation, but provide further corroboration of other claims, opening the door for those with authority to start pulling threads, asking questions, and compelling answers.
How Felix lost control of his store in the first place was alluded to in one of the only media reports on his story, presented a year ago by PIX11 News.
In 2007 he foiled a supposed robbery at the store. But police wound up charging him! An eventual assault conviction (for injuring the alleged robber’s elbow with a knife) meant probation. He gave up day-to-day control of the gun shop to a woman who had become his fiancé, Julie Shields.
A key agent overseeing National Survival after control was taken from Felix was ATF’s Tommy Ho. A key question that needs to be asked concerns his authority to direct Wells Fargo Bank withhold account information from Felix. For its part, Wells Fargo isn’t talking.
A follow-on question is why a check from that account is signed by and endorser with an as-yet indecipherable complete name that appears to include “Ho.” Who is that person and what was that person’s authority to write checks on the National Survival account for what appears to be the purchase of “GUNS”?
That check was noticed by the office of Rep. Kathleen M. Rice, formally asking the FBI last July to investigate a fraud claim for the account on behalf of constituent Felix. Per Felix, the FBI declined to look into matters when he had inquired, allegedly claiming it to be a “civil” matter and further absolving itself from investigating sums under $100,000.
“I would like to obtain a Congressional hearing to review all these issues,” Felix protests. “If this is not brought to the front line, what is the purpose of justice?
The two bodies that can answer that question are the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley. In a way, this is déjà vu all over again, as this is how the Fast and Furious investigation began, with Mike Vanderboegh and I pressuring both bodies to open an inquiry into seemingly outrageous claims, and urging other media outlets to investigate so that they could be independently corroborated.
As with Fast and Furious, claims presented here have been vetted with proven trusted advisors knowledgeable of the situation — and of ATF inner workings — and they agree there is much to be explained.
As noted at the beginning of this report, the story is long and takes many twists. There is plenty more out there that will turn up in an internet search, but it’s also easy to get lost and overwhelmed trying to piece everything together. We’ll be looking at some other elements of this story in the near future, but for now, the desired outcome is to once more get the attention of the committees.
To that end, interested readers are asked to contact Rep. Chaffetz and Sen. Grassley with a request to look at the smoke and see if they can find what’s causing it.
Rather than filling out forms that give preferential consideration to district/state constituents, and because the work of the committees is of national interest, I’m recommending approaching the chairmen by messaging their respective social media accounts:
Your message can be as simple as “Investigate Mark Felix claims about ATF,” with a link to this report.
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.
Additional Documents Scans:
Timeline Wells Fargo Bank and ATF Agent Tommy Ho CONSPIRE Withhold Info From Edward Mark Felix