The debate over Operation Fast and Furious is squeezing its way into the race for Congress in the new 24th Congressional District in central New York.
Syracuse area Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle has been in the midst of the Congressional inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious since earlier this year.
As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee she questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the Justice Department’s role in the Department of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives gun walking operation. In particular, the death of a border control agent killed with weapons sold through Fast and Furious.
Last month, a House committee voted on party lines to find Holder in contempt of Congress for not turning over documents in connection with the program. Buerkle joined her Republican colleagues in voting for finding Holder in contempt.
Buerkle says Holder must be held accountable for the program and hand over information to Congress about it. Now, she says, the issue is in the hands of the courts.
“The criminal contempt was dropped in the District of Columbia and their US Attorney said that he did not find any criminal activities, so he’s not going to prosecute. Now it’s in the civil courts, so it’ll have to go through there. And we’ll hope that the civil courts says: Department of Justice, you have to comply with the subpoena and turn over the documents,” Buerkle said.
But the issue is also about politics. The White House even called the House vote ‘political theater.’
Buerkle’s opponent in the November election, Democrat Dan Maffei, has latched on to her position saying “…it shows that Buerkle is out of touch with the people of central New York to think that voters don’t care about jobs, the economy or medicare.”
Maffei suggests Buerkle is stuck in a bubble of extreme right-wing Washington pundits with no concept of what actually matters to central New Yorkers.