Although the Democrats who broke party lines to vote for Eric Holder to be held in contempt on Thursday have mostly indicated that they have done so because they want transparency for American people and for the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, they have been portrayed in the mainstream media as traitors and shills for the National Rifle Association. On the contrary, these brave democrats are an inspiration, as they fearlessly have done the right thing, despite the storm of criticism they must have known would be coming.
Since Operation Fast and Furious wrongly became a partisan issue, the allegations of racism and a republican "witch hunt" have taken away from the issue at hand; Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have failed to turn over subpoenaed documents, which would provide insight into the ill-advised gun-walking program.
Some of the democrats who voted against party line have spoken out, and they are all listed here.
Statements From Some of the Democrats
Rep. Jason Altmire from Pennsylvania stated, "I believe he is an honest man [Eric Holder]. I think that the documents are going to show that. The question of the vote yesterday was, did he comply with the House request for documents for an ongoing investigation about a very serious matter?... I believe he will not be in any way found to be negligent in that. But the fact is, he was asked to provide the documents, and he didn't."
Rep. John Barrow, from Georgia said, "For me, this investigation has been about justice for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and his family...While Republicans and Democrats argue over the scope of the people's right to know what happened, the Attorney General has decided to withhold relevant documents. The only way to get to the bottom of what happened is for the Department of Justice to turn over the remaining documents; so that we can work together to ensure this tragedy never happens again."
Rep. Dan Boren from Oklahoma said, "Today I joined my colleagues in sending the message to Attorney General Holder that he needs to release all documents regarding the Fast and Furious program. The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry deserves answers to their questions, and the American people are entitled to transparency and accountability from their attorney general."
Rep. Leonard Boswell from Iowa stated, "I voted in support of contempt because I believe we need to be as transparent as possible so we can get to the bottom of this and bring this investigation to a close."
Rep. Mark Critz from Pennsylvania said, "At the end of the day, Congress has the responsibility to provide effective oversight of government programs and taxpayer funds, and it's time to put this issue behind us and focus on what the American people really care about - creating jobs and strengthening our economy."
Rep. Joe Donnelly from Indiana said, "Congress must be able to fulfill its oversight responsibility. The Department of Justice can and should do more to cooperate with this investigation. This should not be a partisan issue."
Rep. Kathy Hochul from New York said, "I think what the House did today was a significant step in securing the documents that Holder has refused to release about the botched gun-tracking program called 'Fast and Furious'. How do we know there's not something significant in these documents?"
Rep. Jim Matheson from Utah said, "Utahns expect and deserve transparency and accountability from government officials, especially when a tragedy such as the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent occurs... The Terry family, the public and Congress deserve answers. Sadly, it seems that it will take holding the Attorney General in contempt to communicate that evasiveness is unacceptable. It is a vote I will support."
Rep. Bill Owens from New York stated, "I am going to vote to hold him in contempt because this, to me, is a transparency issue. We need to make sure that we have proper oversight."
Rep. Tim Walz from Minnesota stated, "I've long had concerns about the 'Fast and Furious' program. It was poorly conceived, unacceptable mistakes were made, and questions were left unanswered. It is the responsibility of Congress to conduct oversight and to ensure transparency that is needed to protect the integrity of our democracy. To do its job, Congress must have access to all of the information it needs to make independent, sound judgments on behalf of the American people."
Thirty-one Democrats wrote to President Obama earlier this month, asking him to ensure that the DoJ provided the information requested by the oversight committee. It has not happened.
These Democrats who broke party lines in order to stand for their beliefs should be held in high regard by those in their constituencies, as they represent something lacking in the government: courage.