NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

June 22, 2012

Tierney, Tisei spar on Holder vote

U.S. Rep. John Tierney said he was “disappointed” by Wednesday’s unprecedented vote by the House Government Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding documents from the committee.

The documents are related to Operation Fast and Furious, an effort launched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona to track weapons purchased by Mexican drug cartels. The ill-conceived operation intentionally allowed traceable guns to go to cartels with the hopes it would lead them to top-level criminals. Instead, the agency lost track of more than 1,000 of the firearms, two of which were found at the scene of the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The Government Oversight Committee, of which Tierney is a member, has been investigating the matter for 16 months.

In an interview yesterday, Tierney said the committee had already gotten to the bottom of the bad decisions that led to Fast and Furious, but have gone off track.

“Now we should be having reform hearings to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but instead the chairman made a partisan play,” he said.

The contempt vote went straight down party lines, with 23 Republicans supporting the measure and 17 Democrats, including Tierney, opposed.

Richard Tisei, Tierney’s Republican opponent in the 6th District Congressional race, criticized the Democrat for his vote and accused him of being the one playing politics.

“This is what’s wrong with Washington. John Tierney, like too many members of both parties, uses serious legal issues for partisan political gain,” Tisei said in a statement yesterday. “These are not laughing matters, particularly when a federal agent died as a result of this blunder. If it were George Bush’s DOJ stonewalling, I would demand accountability. I would also demand it today. John Tierney very clearly only demands it when his party isn’t involved. That is disingenuous and very clearly wrong.”

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