The Justice Department says it has no plans for a criminal prosecution of Attorney General Eric Holder, voted in contempt of Congress last week for refusing to hand over documents demanded by a House investigation of Operation: Fast and Furious. That DEA operation came under fire after weapons sold to Mexican drug cartels, in the hope of tracking their movement, ended up being involved in the fatal shooting of a border patrol agent. YNN's Bill Carey says the ongoing debate has seen a Central New York lawmaker play a central role that could end up as an issue in the campaign ahead.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- As the republican campaign against Eric Holder took hold earlier this year, Ann Marie Buerkle was in the forefront.
“How many more border patrol agents would have had to die as a part of Operation: Fast and Furious for you to take responsibility?” Buerkle questioned.
“That kind of question I think is, frankly, and again, respectfully, I think that's beneath a member of Congress,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
The GOP lawmakers insisted that Holder knew more than he was telling them. Resistance to their demands for documents led to talk of a contempt resolution against the Attorney General.
“Throughout this investigation, the attorney general's actions have been reprehensible. He's been callous towards the victim's family, inaccurate in the information he's provided to Congress and he's not taken responsibility for his role,” Buerkle said.
When the full House prepared to vote on the contempt bill, Buerkle, again, was there, raising some eyebrows with a claim that Fast and Furious was the talk of Syracuse.
Buerkle said, “It is the issue first and foremost on the minds of my constituents.”
It is a claim that Buerkle, back home in the district, is not backing away from.
“Every day we get an e-mail, we get a letter, we get a phone call. Hold the Attorney General and the Department of Justice accountable” Buerkle said.
But her opponents say there are more important issues to be discussing.
“Anything that takes so much focus away from the economy and jobs in the district is not what the congresswoman should be doing. She should be working on the problems we have right here in Central New York,” Congressional candidate Dan Maffei said.
“It's not a secret that Ann Marie Buerkle is one of the more extreme conservative members of Congress. And, so, I don't think it's surprising that she responds to her constituents who also respond to that kind of messaging that comes out of the right wing media,” said Congressional candidate Ursula Rozum.
Buerkle's positions have solidified her position among various conservative groups and could play a role in increased fundraising going in to what's expected to be a very tough reelection bid.
For now, she says she is not backing away from the issue, pledging she will deliver on a simple promise.
“Find out who knew what and when and hold them accountable,” Buerkle said.
A job she says her constituents want her to do.