Thomas Perez, who was nominated by President Obama to be labor secretary this morning, is already under fire from some Republicans.
“Nominating somebody who is in the middle of a congressional investigation shows me that the President isn’t very serious about working together,” said Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) in a statement. “It appears that Mr. Perez may be at the heart of a decision by the Justice Department to make a quid pro quo deal with the city of St. Paul, Minnesota that ultimately led to the American taxpayer potentially losing hundreds of millions of dollars by declining to intervene in a False Claims Act case that career attorneys had signed off on. I’m looking forward to hearing his testimony, because there are a lot of tough questions he should answer for the American people, including those regarding St. Paul.”
In a September letter to attorney general Eric Holder, Grassley, then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R., Texas), Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), and then-chairman of the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.) outlined why they believed Perez had been involved in a quid pro quo deal. The city of St. Paul was set to argue before the Supreme Court that its enforcement of the city’s housing code, which disproportionately affected minorities, did not violate discrimination laws — but abruptly decided not to do so, possibly because of a deal engineered by Perez.
#more#“Mr. Perez fretted that a decision in the City’s favor would dry up the massive mortgage lending settlements his Division was obtaining by suing banks for housing discrimination based on disparate effects rather than any proof of intent to discriminate,” Grassley, Smith, Issa, and McHenry wrote. “Accordingly, as documents reviewed by Committee staff show, he orchestrated a deal to induce the City to drop its Supreme Court challenge. In exchange for St. Paul dropping its case before the high court, the Justice Department declined to intervene in an unrelated False Claims Act (FCA) case that had the potential to return over $180 million in damages to the U.S. treasury.”
Senator David Vitter (R., Louisiana) also announced today that he would block Perez’s nomination. “Thomas Perez’s record should be met with great suspicion by my colleagues for his spotty work related to the New Black Panther case, but Louisianians most certainly should have cause for concern about this nomination,” Vitter said in a statement. “Perez was greatly involved in the DOJ’s partisan full court press to pressure Louisiana’s Secretary of State to only enforce one side of the law — the side that specifically benefits the politics of the president and his administration at the expense of identity security of each and every Louisianian on the voter rolls.”