Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen issued the following statement on the House Republicans' attacks on Tom Perez, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Labor:
"Near the eve of the Senate confirmation hearing of the Secretary of Labor nominee, Tom Perez, House Republicans have launched a witch hunt.
"I have known Tom for years and can attest to his character and his long distinguished career. In Maryland, he successfully worked with both business and labor for the good for our state. The real issue here is the GOP wants to derail a highly competent Presidential nominee from getting a cabinet position because he effectively enforced civil rights law. This is just the politics of personal destruction.
"This is a sad state of affairs for House Republicans, who haven't been able to advance any meaningful solutions to the real challenges facing our country. They've decided to get into the Senate's confirmation business with the politics of personal destruction.
"Hopefully, the Senate will have the good sense to ignore these scurrilous attacks on an extremely qualified nominee that President Obama has selected to serve in his cabinet."
House Republicans are launching an attack on Tom Perez regarding two cases that involved the enforcement of fair housing laws in the city of St Paul, Minnesota. The first case involved a U.S. Supreme Court review of "disparate impact" theory, a key component to the enforcement of civil rights laws. The other case involved a "qui tam" claim against the city, and presented the Government with the opportunity to intervene on behalf of the person who brought the case.
The Justice Department's Civil Division had jurisdiction over the qui tam case. Both cases were reviewed and decided on their merits based on the recommendations of career employees. However, the Civil Rights Division, headed by Perez, had input into each case because of the civil rights aspect involved.
From the outset of his involvement, Perez sought and received 2 ethics opinions within the Department of Justice regarding the simultaneous consideration of these cases. Both offices concluded that his involvement in these cases was ethical and appropriate.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Judiciary Committee conducted a review of this issue. Congressman Van Hollen received a briefing on these cases from the Committees' Democratic Investigators, who concluded that all actions taken by Perez were appropriate.
House Republicans have also decided to hold a hearing this week, in the House Judiciary Committee, on an Inspector General report issued last month about the poor management of the Civil Rights Division. Ironically, virtually all of the mismanagement described in the report took place under the prior Administration. Moreover, to the extent the report ever mentions Perez, it completely exonerates him and gives him credit for correcting past problems.