Washington, D.C. – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement as the full House of Representatives held a partisan vote to hold the nation’s attorney general in contempt of Congress. Civil rights groups see Attorney General Holder as a champion for their issues and view the contempt citation as an effort to distract the Department of Justice from this important work. On Tuesday, Henderson anchored a press conference with civil rights leaders condemning the attempt:
“Attorney General Eric Holder is an exemplary public servant – and this reckless and wrong-headed vote doesn’t change that.
Anyone who has followed these proceedings over the last several weeks and months knows that the attorney general is not in contempt of Congress; rather, he is in contempt of the narrow partisan agenda of some in the House leadership.
The fact that this vote is tied to the political whims of the National Rifle Association is nothing short of absurd. A contempt citation from Congress is a historic sanction that should not be invoked on such frivolous grounds. The attorney general has gone above and beyond the precedent of previous attorneys general in cooperating with Chairman Issa and the committee on this so-called investigation.
This unfair and partisan charade is an attempt to tie the hands of the Department of Justice at a time when its law enforcement powers are desperately needed in communities across the nation. The attorney general has a demonstrated commitment to defending our nation’s laws on behalf of all Americans. He has championed the right to vote, defended the Affordable Care Act, protected homeowners from predatory lending, defended the federal government from state overreach on immigration laws, backed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and helped to reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing.
In the 16-month investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Democrats were not allowed to call one witness; and they were refused the chance to call former key players in these operations to testify, including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former ATF Director Ken Melson. The oversight committee has no credibility in calling this an investigation; it’s pure political theatre!
We applaud the efforts of Congressman Dingell, dean of the House of Representatives, for his resolution to refer this entire matter back to the committee so it can perform a legitimate investigation, and we stand in spirit with the bold members of Congress who walked out in protest.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.