WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican-run House committee's vote to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress is part of GOP efforts to suppress votes in the upcoming elections, the top House Democrat said Thursday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder was "a shameful display of an abuse of power" by House Republicans. She said it was not a coincidence that Holder is the government official in charge of preventing voter suppression and enforcing civil liberties.
"These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote" that also involves big donors who are anonymously contributing large sums of money to GOP candidates and causes, she said.
Democrats have complained about states that have enacted more stringent identification requirements for voters, asserting they will discourage minorities from voting.
The GOP-run House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted Wednesday to hold the attorney general in contempt for failing to supply additional documents related to the mishandled "Fast and Furious" gun-running investigation.
Asked about Pelosi's remarks, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "The American people deserve the truth on what happened in Fast and Furious."
A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the oversight committee, criticized Pelosi for her comments.
"For minority leader Pelosi to dismiss this tragedy and say the investigation is really about voter suppression is offensive and wrong," said the spokesman, Frederick R. Hill.
The Justice Department has already turned over thousands of documents about the operation itself. Now lawmakers are focused on how the Justice Department responded to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation.
In Operation Fast and Furious, federal agents in Arizona lost track of illegally-purchased weapons they were tracking. Two of those guns were found at the scene of the slaying of U.S. border agent Brian Terry. Officials first told lawmakers there was no "gun-walking," or the letting U.S-purchased guns reach Mexico. But officials later acknowledged there was, prompting the committee to seek more documents.