Chandler says vote for contempt is in defense of congressional oversight

06/28/2012 03:53 PM

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said he voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress because he had cast similar votes against Republican White House general counsels and wants to preserve the role of oversight Congress has.

Chandler was among 17 Democrats to vote with the Republican majority to hold Holder in contempt of Congress Thursday afternoon. The House voted 255-67 with one present vote in favor of holding Holder in contempt.

The vote comes after the House Oversight Committee sought to get documents related to the “fast and furious” scheme in which the Department of Justice approved the sale of guns to illegal buyers in order to track them. A majority of those guns have been lost and one was used to kill a border agent last year.

Here’s Chandler’s full statement:

“Throughout my time in Congress and as Attorney General of Kentucky, I have always supported the principle of public disclosure and been an advocate for open records regardless of which party is in power. I voted to hold Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten in contempt while President Bush was in office, and even though some Republicans have turned this into a political circus, it is imperative that Congress is able to exercise its duties of oversight.”

More than 100 other Democrats, including U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, walked out of the House chamber Thursday afternoon in protest against what many called a partisan witch hunt. Holder is the first U.S. attorney general to be held in contempt by a full chamber of Congress.

All four of Kentucky’s Republican House members voted in favor of contempt.

Holder called the vote a “grave disservice to the country.”


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