Democrat breaks ranks, supports Issa’s push to enforce Fast and Furious subpoena

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

Indiana Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he supports the House oversight committee’s efforts to enforce the congressional subpoena of Attorney General Eric Holder over Operation Fast and Furious.

“One of the duties of Congress is to provide oversight of the Executive Branch,” Donnelly told TheDC. “There has been a serious allegation of federal law enforcement misconduct and we need to get to the bottom of this issue without playing partisan politics.”

Holder has demonstrably failed to comply with the congressional subpoena House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served him on Oct. 12, 2011. Holder has failed to comply with all 22 categories of the subpoena that demands he provide documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. With 13 of the categories, Holder has provided no documents whatsoever. When it comes to the other nine subpoena categories, Holder is still far from compliant, as TheDC reported late last week.

Despite Holder’s explicit failure to comply with the subpoena, the House oversight committee’s top Democrat, ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, still insists Holder has not failed to comply. On Monday, Cummings spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told TheDC that Cummings believes Holder hasn’t failed to comply with the subpoena because he thinks the Department of Justice is “still producing documents.”

Etienne wouldn’t specify which “documents” Cummings believes the DOJ is “still producing” when asked. Republicans have been extraordinarily specific on that front.

Cummings has also accused those pushing for answers and accountability when it comes to Fast and Furious – specifically with the apparently imminent contempt of Congress citation against Holder for his failure to comply with the subpoena – of trying to “generate press for political purposes.”

“Holding someone in contempt is one of the most serious actions Congress can take, but it is being used in this case as part of a partisan election year witch-hunt,” Cummings said in response to beginnings of contempt proceedings against Holder, according to Fox News.

Donnelly’s support of the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious and his support of Congress’ duty to provide oversight of the administration is a break from the ranks of his fellow Democrats, like Cummings. It also indicates that there’s some bipartisan support for the investigation Issa is undertaking into the Obama administration’s role in Fast and Furious.

Donnelly was one of 31 House Democrats who, in June 2011, wrote to President Barack Obama asking him to direct Holder and the Justice Department to comply with the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious.

In that letter, Donnelly and his Democratic colleagues told Obama that while the reports of the gunwalking “tactics used in this operation [Fast and Furious] are extremely troubling,” they think it’s “equally troubling that the Department of Justice has delayed action and withheld information from Congressional inquiries.”

Donnelly is currently the only Democratic candidate in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race this year. He will be facing off against either incumbent GOP Sen. Dick Lugar or the state’s current treasurer Richard Mourdock depending on who wins on Tuesday.

The other 30 House Democrats who signed that June 2011 letter to Obama on Fast and Furious haven’t responded to TheDC’s requests for comment on how Holder has provably failed to comply with the congressional subpoena. Even so, many of them have been outspoken against the administration’s handling of the scandal in recent months.

Most notably, Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren told TheDC he had “no comment” when asked if he still had confidence in Holder after Fast and Furious – indicating that he’s openly choosing to not back the embattled attorney general. Democratic Reps. Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Gene Green of Texas recently told The Washington Times’ Kerry Picket they want the DOJ’s Inspector General to release her internal report on Fast and Furious before the upcoming November presidential election and Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Ron Kind said he’s concerned about the slow pace of the investigations.

The other Democrats who signed that June 2011 letter who haven’t returned TheDC’s requests for comment are: Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire, Tim Holden and Mark Critz, California Reps. Joe Baca, Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa, Georgia Reps. Sanford Bishop and John Barrow, Iowa Rep. Leonard Boswell, Kentucky Rep. Ben Chandler, Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper, Illinois Rep. Jerry Costello, Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, New Mexico Reps. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, North Carolina Reps. Larry Kissell , Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, Maine Rep. Mike Michaud, New York Rep. Bill Owens, Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

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