WASHINGTON -- Ohio Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge and the Democratic Caucus walked off the House floor when other members held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Fudge and members of the Democratic Caucus, Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive Caucuses, as well as other Members of Congress, walked off instead of voting to express their strong opposition to this partisan activity.
They say this contempt hearing distracts both the Congress in its duty to pass legislation pertinent to the American people, as well as the Department of Justice in its duty to investigate and pursue real crimes.
Despite the walkout, in a 255 to 67 vote, the House found Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-running sting.
Northeastern Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette was one of two Republicans who voted against holding Holder in contempt.
Holder, saying he his department has turned over thousands of documents, called the vote a "regrettable culmination of what became a misguided -- and politically motivated -- investigation during an election year."
Holder says the vote finding him in contempt of Congress was a politically motivated act in an election year.
Holder says that Rep. Darrell Issa, who leads the House committee investigating a flawed gun-smuggling investigation, and others have focused on politics over public safety.
The attorney general says that when concerns about Operation Fast and Furious first came to light, he took action and ordered an independent investigation into what happened.
That probe by the Justice Department's inspector general is under way. Holder blames Issa and his supporters for the dispute that led to the contempt vote.
Issa subpoenaed documents and the attorney general says he made an offer to settle the dispute that Issa rebuffed.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer described it as "a transparently political stunt."
Those who walked out composed a letter:
"The Republican leadership has articulated no legislative purpose for pursuing this course of action," said the letter from the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus to colleagues.
"For these reasons, we cannot and will not participate in a vote to hold the attorney general in contempt."
The House vote fell largely along partisan lines. Seven House Democrats supporting the contempt citation, while only two Republicans voted against it.
A separate vote will be taken to find him in civil contempt.
The House devoted much of its legislative session on Thursday to debating Holder's role in "Operation Fast and Furious," which was aimed at following guns being purchased in Arizona to determine whether they flowed into Mexico for use by drug cartels.
By early 2011, that investigation had been terminated after disclosures that federal agents had lost track of many of the high-powered weapons, which subsequently were traced to crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Holder became the first sitting attorney general -- and the first presidential Cabinet member -- to be accused of the crime of contempt by the full House.