As Hans Bader noted in an April 26 column, Obama’s nominee for Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez, has been described as a man “who personifies … this administration’s flouting of the rule of law.” Now on the eve of Perez’s confirmation hearings before the Senate, the watchdog organization Judicial Watch has uncovered more dirt on the assistant attorney general for civil rights through FOIA lawsuits.
In November, 2010, Judicial Watch produced documents obtained from the Obama Department of Justice directly contradicting sworn testimony by Perez before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that no political leadership was involved in the DOJ decision to abandon its own voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The Black Panther Party had been charged with threatening and intimidating white voters outside a Philadelphia polling station on Election day 2008.
In July 2012, Judicial Watch obtained a ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that Perez had, indeed, lied under oath about the involvement of “political leadership” in the DOJ decision. In the ruling, Judge Reggie B. Walton declared:
The documents reveal that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that case, which would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in that decision.
The DOJ’s Office of Inspector General recently released a report titled “A Review of the Operations of the Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division,” which confirms the court’s ruling. The report reads in part, “We believe that these facts evidence ‘involvement’ in the decision by political appointees within the ordinary meaning of that word,” and that Perez’s statements, “did not capture the full extent of that involvement.” The report also documents that Perez does not believe in the race neutral application of certain civil rights laws.
Also in 2012, it was discovered that Perez may have colluded with St. Paul, Minnesota, officials to persuade the city to take the extraordinary step of withdrawing its cert petition from the Supreme Court docket in a case involving “disparate impact” discrimination. Documents obtained under the Minnesota Data Practices Act showed that St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing arranged a meeting between Perez, and Mayor Chris Coleman a week before the city’s withdrawal from the case, captioned Magner v. Gallagher. Following Perez’s visit, the city withdrew its case and thanked DOJ and officials at HUD for their involvement.
Documents and a staff briefing with the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform revealed in September 2012 that, in exchange for St. Paul dropping its case before the high court, DOJ stopped two whistleblower claims against the city with the power to restore $180 million in violated HUD grants to the U.S. taxpayer. The Wall Street Journal confirmed Judicial Watch’s concerns in an investigation of its own and noted that the issues are “likely to get high billing” at Perez’s confirmation proceedings.
Perez is a former president of the board of Central American Solidarity Association of Maryland, CASA de Maryland, a group whose recent filings with the IRS describe its chief goals as helping all people “participate and benefit fully” in American society, “regardless of their immigration status.” In opposing the Perez nomination, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions (D-AL), described CASA, which was supported by Hugo Chavez, as “a fringe advocacy group that has instructed illegal immigrants on how to escape detection, and also promoted illegal labor sites and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.”
Perez helped spearhead the DOJ’s attack on SB 1070, Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law, also the DOJ’s legal attacks against states that attempted to implement voter integrity measures in 2012, including Voter ID laws.
In summary, Judicial Watch released the following opinion of Perez:
During his time as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Thomas Perez has shown a glaring inability to tell the truth and dispassionately apply the basic constitutional tenet of ‘equal justice under law.
Time and again in recent years, Judicial Watch has exposed Mr. Perez’s repeated attempts to undermine those seeking to assure that the laws of the land are applied equally to those of all races. Mr. Perez’s attacks on election integrity measures such as voter ID were so far off base that he helped the DOJ earn a reputation as a partisan campaign arm for the Obama reelection campaign.
As Secretary of Labor, Mr. Perez would be in a position to push policies broadly discriminate against American workers who failed to meet his own, thoroughly racialist worldview. Furthermore, based upon his relentless record both in and out of government, there can be little doubt that he would continue to put his personal preference for illegal immigrants above the rights of all workers of any race to equal employment opportunity.
Mr. Perez is a terrible, hyper-partisan choice for Labor Secretary. Honest Democrats and Republicans who want the Labor Department to be run well should look skeptically at his nomination.