Jun 26, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Hill: Democrats are seeking to portray the Republican contempt motion against Attorney General Eric Holder as an assault on minority rights.
Republicans have repeatedly accused Holder and the Obama administration of stonewalling Congress, but Democrats are now trying to steer the “Fast and Furious” debate away from transparency and toward voter suppression.
At the front of the push is a group of seven national civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, that is scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday about the effect that placing Holder in contempt of Congress would have on his ability to protect the rights of black and Hispanic voters, homeowners and immigrants.
“I’m not saying that this is because Holder is black, and I’m not calling [Republicans] racists. I’m saying what they’re doing has a racial effect, and that’s what we’re going to talk about [on Tuesday],” said Sharpton in a phone interview.
“The question one would have to raise is: If he is held in contempt, under that cloud, how does he fight for voter rights? This compromises the Justice Department from being able to do a lot of fighting.”
The civil rights leaders are expected to echo concerns raised by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) last week.
Republicans have scheduled a floor vote for Thursday if the Department of Justice doesn’t fork over documents they subpoenaed on the botched gun-tracking operation.
Pelosi said it is “no accident” that Republicans are pressing for a contempt vote at the same time the DOJ has ramped up efforts to stymie voter ID laws. Democrats argue the laws prevent black and Hispanic voters from casting their ballots, while the GOP says they help prevent voter fraud.
“They’re going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter-suppression initiatives in the states,” said Pelosi.
Holder is the first black attorney general, and in an op-ed published last week, Sharpton used charged language to emphasize the racial overtones that might arise as the contempt measure comes to a head.
Sharpton wrote that Holder has been “stopped and frisked” by Republicans over the course of their investigation and has been “profiled” in his role as a prominent black federal official.
“AG Holder was in essence ‘stopped & frisked’ without probable cause, and after he cooperated, he was made an example of,” wrote Sharpton in the Huffington Post. “What Issa just showed us is that no matter what our stature in this world, someone can easily try to ‘put us in our place.’ ”