U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman last week became the first Democrat to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to reopen the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, according to the Washington Times. Sherman wrote a letter to Holder to request that he re-file “criminal” charges against the New Black Panthers involved in the case.

Sherman’s July 19 letter to the Department of Justice stated:

It appears that a decision was made in May 2009 to not use the full force of the law with regard to those members of the New Black Panther party who engaged in racist and wrongful behavior at a Philadelphia polling place. It is my understanding that certain civil charges have been downgraded for the main perpetrator and dropped for the other individuals involved. I urge you to review the matter and pursue the criminal case that your department did not originally pursue.

Two weeks ago, the California congressman had not even heard of the original lawsuit.

“As to the Black Panther Party, I’m simply not aware of that case,” Sherman said to constituents at a July 11 Town Hall meeting in California.

Sherman’s constituents were outraged at his statement — and Fox News later claimed Sherman was negligent to not know about the incident of voter intimidation or the troubling potential policy of the Justice Department that led to the dismissal of the case. Sherman responded in a press release: Less than one page in 50,000 from the “sources of information which I rely upon most,” he said, dealt with the issue.

With the letter to Holder, Sherman also accuses the Bush administration of “flagrantly ignor[ing] its constitutional responsibilities in white washing [sic] cases involving voter intimidation” and demands that the Department of Justice reinvestigate six Bush-era voting cases.

The Washington Times says there’s an important distinction, however:

If these six cases cited by Rep. Sherman were not even serious enough to pass preliminary review by line attorneys, they hardly rise to the level of the Black Panther case, which already was effectively WON by DoJ before the Obama appointees stepped in at the last minute and pulled the plug on the case. Forget apples and oranges; the Panther case is the size of a pumpkin whereas the other cases were sickly plants that bore no fruit at all.