President Barack Obama’s promise of a new era of “transparency” in government came crashing down last month when he invoked executive privilege to protect documents surrounding the congressional investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.
According to The Washington Post, in one of his first memos to federal agencies, President Obama said, “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” Obama added, “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
However, President Obama’s pledge of “transparency” and “openness” does not apply to Attorney General Eric Holder’s handling of Operation Fast and Furious.
Operation Fast and Furious — the botched gun-tracking program — is casting a deep shadow over the Obama administration and highlighting the failure of Holder as attorney general.
Under Fast and Furious, U.S. gun shop owners sold guns to straw purchasers. Thousands of those weapons ended up in the hands of drug cartels, tragically resulting in the killing of hundreds of Mexicans and the shooting death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona.
Holder’s refusal to turn over vital documents to Congress leaves many questions unanswered, including which individuals are responsible for this botched government-run operation.
In an effort to get answers, the House of Representatives voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for his resistance to be forthcoming with relevant documents, the first such vote against a sitting cabinet member.
As Holder hides behind President Obama’s executive privilege, Al Sharpton has joined the fray by accusing House Republicans of racism.
It’s not surprising that Sharpton inserted himself in the high-profile Holder controversy. As I described in my book, Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation, Sharpton “grabbed his power by making sure no matter what issue is happening, whatever the crisis may be, he brings race to the table — warranted or not.”
Sharpton is trying to protect Holder by framing the controversy as a Republican effort to punish the attorney general for challenging voter ID laws. According to The Hill, Sharpton said, “I’m not saying that this is because Holder is black, and I’m not calling [Republicans] racists. I’m saying what they’re doing has a racial effect, and that’s what we’re going to talk about …” Sharpton continued, “The question one would have to raise is: If he is held in contempt, under that cloud, how does he fight for voter rights? This compromises the Justice Department from being able to do a lot of fighting.”
Additionally, Sharpton wrote in a recent Huffington Post op-ed that Holder “has been ridiculed, scapegoated and handled as some sort of criminal throughout this ‘investigation.’” Sharpton can’t understand why Holder is being treated in the manner he is or why, “despite his esteemed position, he can and would be profiled.”
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is also defending Holder. Putting politics before accountability, CBC members are ignoring Congress’s oversight responsibilities. Drawing attention and drama to their cause, CBC members staged a walkout during the contempt vote.
In the end, the House voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress by a vote 255-67, with 17 Democrats voting to hold Holder in contempt.
Holder is also playing the race and partisan cards. He claims he’s been made a “proxy” by Republicans to attack President Obama during this election year. In other words, Holder is now a victim.
“I’ve become a symbol of what they don’t like about the positions this Justice Department has taken,” Holder told The Washington Post. “I am also a proxy for the president in an election year. You have to be exceedingly naive to think that vote was about … documents.”
Sadly, while Holder, Sharpton and the CBC kick up dust to cloud the facts about Fast and Furious, the Terry family’s plea for answers and accountability continues to take a back seat along with President Obama’s promise of greater transparency.
Deneen Borelli is a Daily Caller columnist and the director of outreach at FreedomWorks.