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Posted Jun 29, 2012, 4:24 pm
Matt Heinz, a state representative running against U.S. Rep. Ron Barber in the CD2 Democratic primary, said the new congressman's vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in civil contempt "in no way helps Arizona with its border security issues."
Barber joined with the majority Republicans in the 258-95 vote Thursday. Earlier in the day, Barber voted against a criminal contempt charge against Holder. That measure passed 255-67.
Holder has refused to turn over documents demanded by Congress in the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, the botched "gun-walking" operation by federal agents in Arizona.
The White House has asserted executive privilege over the documents, and refused to release them to the House Oversight Committee chaired by California Republican Darrell Issa.
"The congressional investigation into the scandal has revealed systemic flaws that should be the focus of a national discussion. Instead of working to solve the problem, Barber crossed over to support a partisan attack, placing the seal of Southern Arizona voters' approval on this political circus," Heinz said Friday afternoon in a news release.
Barber called the civil contempt move "warranted."
"The administration should share the requested documents with Congress and action in federal court is a prudent way to remove this critical law enforcement debate from the realm of politics," he said Thursday in a news release.
While many Democratic representatives—including Raúl Grijalva—walked out during the criminal contempt vote, Barber voted "no" on the measure.
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The criminal contempt vote "does nothing to further the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious," Barber said in a news release.
Heinz poked at Barber for splitting his vote.
"This is a politically motivated vote that will go nowhere. Barber is endorsing this distraction and inaction instead of working toward real solutions to ensure what he claims to be his top priority, actual border security," he said.
"We need put politics aside and confront the root of the gun-smuggling problem," Heinz said.
"We should be creating a clear federal mandate to crack down on gun trafficking that funnels thousands of weapons daily to violent drug cartels. This political distraction is exacerbating the problem - while the ATF has been under political attack, gun seizures in Arizona have dropped by 90 percent," he said.
Heinz said the Issa "admitted that the White House had nothing to do with this scandal; attacking the Attorney General Holder as an agent of the White House is unacceptable political posturing."
"The failures happened at the level of regional prosecutors, in large part due to a lack of enforceable federal laws regarding this deadly issue." Heinz said, "What we need is a clarification of federal law that defends 2nd amendment rights, but does not extend those protections to criminals. We must provide necessary tools for law enforcement to apprehend these violent criminals."
TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.