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Letter to Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez - Grassley Presses Perez to Comply with Subpoena, Obey the Law


Location: Washington, DC

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, continued to press Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez to comply with a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and to provide the documents to the Senate as it considers his nomination. Perez orchestrated a controversial deal with the city of St. Paul, Minn. that prevented the Justice Department from recovering hundreds of millions of dollars back to the taxpayers, and left a whistleblower out in the cold. Perez was nominated to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor on March 18, 2013. His nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was yesterday.

In a letter following Perez's hearing before the Senate Grassley wrote that in response to a question from Senator Orrin Hatch about complying with the subpoena, Perez neglected to provide a complete answer. "You artfully responded, "we provided what I think [is a] responsive letter yesterday,'" Grassley wrote. "Of course what you neglected to inform Senator Hatch was that the "responsive letter' in fact refused to provide the documents identified," he continued.

In a transcribed interview with staff of the House and Senate Judiciary and House Oversight committees, Perez testified that he did not recall using his personal email to conduct Department business related to the Quid Pro Quo. But when he was later made aware of at least one email from his Verizon account, he belatedly turned over a single additional email, rather than -- as was asked -- all of the emails from his personal account that relate to his official duties.

After being issued the subpoena, Perez has identified approximately 1,200 personal emails that are responsive to the request, some of which reportedly disclosed non-public information about publicly traded companies. Yet, he simultaneously refused to turn them over to Congress, despite his legal obligation to do so under the subpoena.

Here's a copy of the text of Grassley's letter to Perez.

April 18, 2013

The Honorable Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Assistant Attorney General Perez:

I was disappointed to learn yesterday that you have chosen not to comply with the congressional subpoena issued to you on April 10, 2013 by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and turn over the approximate 1,200 personal emails you identified that relate to your official duties, despite your legal obligation to do so. Such extensive use of your personal email to conduct official Department of Justice business is extremely troubling.

Instead of choosing to fully comply with the subpoena, you have chosen not to cooperate with the valid exercise of congressional oversight. While the response sent from the Department of Justice yesterday acknowledges your extensive use of personal email to conduct official Department of Justice business, it simultaneously refuses to provide the documents subpoenaed. Indeed during your hearing today, Senator Hatch asked you whether you would commit to fully complying with the subpoena. You artfully responded, "we provided what I think [is a] responsive letter yesterday." Of course, what you neglected to inform Senator Hatch was that the "responsive letter" in fact refused to provide the documents identified. In fact, the letter identified 1,200 responsive documents, and then offered to "accommodat[e]" the Oversight Committee by making a fraction of those -- to be precise, 34 -- available for in camera review, in redacted form.

The subpoena was directed to you, not the Department of Justice. These documents are in your custody and control, not the Department's. It is your decision whether or not to comply, not the Department's.

Inasmuch as the subject matter of this oversight inquiry bears directly on the Senate's consideration of your nomination to be Secretary of Labor, and because it bears directly on the Committee on the Judiciary's (Committee) oversight of the Department of Justice, I ask that you comply with the subpoena and provide the documents demanded by it not only to the House Oversight Committee on Government Reform, but also to the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member,
Committee on the Judiciary

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