As the Senate takes up Barack Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez to replace Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, it seems that Perez is turning into a headline maker–and not in a good way for the Obama Administration.
During his Senate confirmation hearing last Thursday, Perez affirmed what many already knew–but the Obama Administration has been loathe to admit–that the real unemployment rate is actually double what the Administration touts.
To make matters even more embarrassing for the Obama Administration, according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, Perez may have illegally been leaking information to outside groups via his personal e-mail.
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said it appears Perez used his personal email account almost 1,200 times since 2009 to conduct official department business, including communicating with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the New York Times, and Talking Points Memo.
Issa wrote that he received a letter from the Justice Department’s principal deputy assistant attorney general for Legislative Affairs, Peter J. Kadzik, conceding Perez had committed at least 34 violations of the Federal Records Act. [Emphasis added.]
While the revelations about Perez’s possible violations of the law are new, Perez’s radicalism at the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division have been noted for some time.
In July 2011, Perez gave remarks to a National Council of La Raza (NCLR) luncheon for which, according to Bretbart’s Kerry Picket, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee accused Perez of engaging in “political activism.”
To further add to Obama’s embarrassment, while Perez was heading the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, according to a DOJ Inspector General’s 300-page report, there were “bitter divisions and racial hostility” during his tenure.
Although, according to a Politico piece, Perez responded to the criticism by stating that “the probe did not find sufficient evidence to demonstrate that racial or political bias affected litigation decisions” this hasn’t made Perez any less controversial.
The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk notes that “every attorney hired at the Civil Rights Division after 2009 has a background in left-wing activism, Perez did not hire one moderate, non-ideological, or conservative applicant.”
One former DOJ employee who resigned due to Perez’s handling of the 2008 voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party told the Washington Free Beacon that Perez is “most extreme cabinet appointee in 70 years.”
“People like Perez are very skillful at creatively ignoring the law to suit their own ends.”
Another issue that apparently has not generated much questioning from Republicans on the Senate HELP committee is Perez’s views on the proposed change to the Department of Labor’s “Persuader Rule.”
As noted here on RedState in July, 2011, DOL’s Hilda Solis & Company proposed a radical change to the interpretation of a 1959 law that requires employers to report moneys spent on consultants who assist them during union organizing campaigns.
While the original law was written to curb union corruption, employer payments to consultants who meet directly with employees to “persuade” them in the exercise of the Section Seven rights (union or “concerted activity”) have always been reportable.
However, unions have long sought to expand the DOL’s interpretation to include the employers’ hiring of attorneys who provide counsel on labor relations issues.
The problem, however, came with how broadly the DOL drafted the change. The DOL’s proposal was so broadly written that just about any type of outside help an employer brought in to assist in its labor relations and even its employee relations or human resources would likely be viewed as “reportable.”
If setting up an employee handbook, doing a employee opinion survey, establishing roundtable meetings, or safety committees—since a positive workplace negates having a union and indirectly keeps unions out—then, literally, every human resources consultant would likely fall into the DOL’s new definition of persuader and will be required to file reports.
If the employer failed to report the monies paid, or the consultant (or lawyer) failed to report the income received, it could lead to criminal charges.
Although the proposed rule change would catch many of the Administration’s own allies in the “persuader” pool, there were other, more pertinent points raised by many (including the American Bar Association) that has caused delay in the proposed rule’s implementation.
Now, if confirmed, the “persuader rule” will come under Perez’s reign at the Department of Labor–which means he will be responsible for enforcing it.
This “raises some ironic ethical considerations” according to IndustryWeek:
An ethically problematic labor regulation should be enforced and interpreted by a labor secretary who is above reproach. [Emphasis added.]
Above reproach? That is not Thomas Perez.
If the Senate goes ahead and confirms Perez, one thing is certain: The ammunition he gives will be fodder for business writers and bloggers for the next several years. For the Obama Administration, Perez will turn out to be the embarrassing gift that just keeps on giving.
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)