PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens voted in favor of holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over the Fast and Furious issue.
“I am going to vote to hold him in contempt because this, to me, is a transparency issue,” the Plattsburgh Democrat said Thursday morning, several hours before the vote.
“We need to make sure that we have proper oversight.”
Holder is under fire for not releasing documents pertaining to the Fast and Furious plan of 2009. The plan was designed to trace guns sold by licensed gun dealers in Arizona to see if drug cartels in Mexico eventually got them.
But the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms lost track of about 1,700 of 2,000 guns that were sold. An ATF agent was reportedly killed by bullets fired from two of the guns during a shootout in Arizona in December of 2010.
Owens joined 16 other Democrats who broke ranks and joined Republicans in voting to hold Holder in contempt. But he said it was not about politics.
“All of these issues have political angles, but I think on balance, we want to go with transparency,” he said.
Following Thursday’s vote, Owens’s opponent in this year’s race for the 21st District seat, Republican Matt Doheny, said Holder should resign.
“Mr. Holder has lost the confidence of a bipartisan majority and must step down,” he said in a statement.
“Unless Bill Owens’ vote today was merely a purely political maneuver, he should join me in calling on the attorney general to resign.”
An affirmative vote of contempt means that Holder can be tried in civil court by the Department of Justice if the department chooses to do so.
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