Senator Lee Voices Opposition to Department of Labor Nominee, Thomas Perez

July 18, 2013

WASHINGTON - Today Senator Lee voiced his opposition to the nomination of Thomas E. Perez to be U.S. SEcretary of Labor. The full remarks of the speech as prepared for delivery can be found below:

I rise today to voice my strong opposition to the nomination of Thomas E. Perez to be U.S. Secretary of Labor.

There is no shortage of reasons why Mr. Perez should not be confirmed.  Several of my colleagues have come to the floor to discuss a number of troubling facts about Mr. Perez’s professional history, each one of them reason enough to disqualify his nomination.

Mr. Perez has abused his position as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.  Rather than seek out and expose instances of racial injustice, Mr. Perez has turned the office into his own personal tool of political activism. 

For example, a report issued by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General found that during Perez’s tenure at the CRD, employees harassed colleagues for their religious and political beliefs.

And, despite having little if any evidence of racial discrimination, Mr. Perez has repeatedly opposed the efforts by states to ensure the integrity of their elections. Under his direction, the Civil Rights Division has pursued frivolous lawsuits against voter ID laws, ignored statutes that require states to purge ineligible voters, and slow-walked attempts to protect the voting rights of military members.

While head of the CRD, Mr. Perez’s unit also used spurious and misleading claims to allege racial discrimination and selectively enforced laws to target unfavored groups.

Most troubling, Mr. Perez has willfully disregarded a lawful subpoena from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to produce documents relating the use of his non-official email account for official purposes.  According to the Chairman of that Committee, “Mr. Perez has not produced a single document responsive to the Committee’s subpoena” and “remains noncompliant.”

At a minimum, this is a basic violation of the rule of law and impedes a fundamental function of the legislative branch to provide oversight of the administration.

Anyone showing this type of willful disregard for the law and ambivalence toward America’s essential principles of democracy should not be considered for a top post in any administration.