U.S. Rep. John Barrow was among a group of 17 Democrats who broke rank on Thursday to support a contempt citation against the nation’s top law man, the first instance in which Congress had imposed the sanction on a member of any presidential cabinet.

Early defection estimates were vague, with whip counts ranging between 4 and 20 Democrats voting to slap U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt charges.

But in spite of intraparty flack and heavy leaning from the White House and the Justice Department, 17 Democrats still broke rank. Barrow’s compatriots were: Reps. Jason Altmire, Dan Boren, Leonard Boswell, Ben Chandler, Mark Critz, Joe Donnelly, Kathy Hochul, Ron Kind, Larry Kissell, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntryre, BIll Owens, Collin Peterson, Nick Rahall, Mike Ross, and Tim Walz.

All but two Republicans voting for the censure, the House found Holder in contempt just after 4:40 today. The roll call margin: 255 to 67, with one present vote. Barrow was the sole Georgia Democrat to vote for the measure.

Republicans floated the resolution after the House oversight committee said it was unsatisfied with the Department of Justice’s level of transparency regarding a bungled gun-running operation that has been since tied to the death of a U.S. border agent.

In protest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the Congressional Black Caucus–to which the entirety of Georgia’s House Democratic caucus, save for Barrow, belongs–organized a walk-out during the proceedings. A full 110 Democrats participated in the symbolic exercise.

– James Richardson