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Republican-Tea Party Witch Hunt Is a “Shameful and Shameless” Political Assault on the Attorney General

June 28, 2012
Press Release

For Immediate Release:  June 28, 2012                                        
Contact:  Maria Reppas, (202) 225-6631 / (202) 527-0149

National Rifle Association Cheerleading for Censure Highlights GOP Political Strategy of Baiting Tea Party Voters by Attacking Obama Administration


“This Tea Party Republican resolution is a shameful and shameless political witch hunt intended to destroy an honorable man’s character.  The only reason this unprecedented attack is taking place against our country’s first African American Attorney General is because the Tea Party Republican majority is pandering to birthers, NRA members, and other extremist right-wingers obsessed with destroying President Obama.  Eric Holder has my full support, and I reject this transparent political abuse of power.”

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) voiced her strong opposition to a House Republican resolution to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents pertaining to sensitive and on-going law enforcement activities to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 

The committee request is for documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which allowed the straw purchase of firearms in pursuit of prosecutions of gun smugglers.  Two of the illegally purchased AK-47 assault weapons were found at the scene of a gun battle that resulted in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry on December 15, 2010.  In his effort to cooperate with Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) Attorney General Holder has provided the Oversight Committee with more than 7,600 pages of documents and participated in nine congressional hearings.

In 2006, under the Bush Administration, the ATF’s Arizona office used the tactic of “gun walking” to allow guns to remain on the street after a potentially illegal sale to build a bigger case rather than interdicting them immediately.  President Bush’s Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, received a briefing paper on November 16, 2007 on ATF cooperation with Mexico on “controlled deliveries” of weapons smuggling.  The House Oversight Committee has failed to call any Bush Administration officials to testify on this matter.

Yesterday in Politico, a senior Republican House aide is quoted as saying, “The contempt of Holder is a dog whistle to the right-wing tea party community, saying that we are representing them…this is a way to say we’re going after this administration, holding them accountable.”

Further proof of the blatantly political nature of the Holder contempt vote is the decision by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to “score” the vote as part of its legislative report card to their membership.  The NRA has long championed allowing the proliferation of assault weapons previously banned on American streets and sold over the counter, like the AK-47s found at Agent Terry’s murder scene.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees.