Democrats are strongly backing Perez, but Republicans, spooked by his record of far left, activist overreach at the Justice Department are doing what they can to thwart his nomination.
“He is a committed ideologue who appears willing, quite frankly, to say or do anything to achieve his ideological ends.
“His willingness, time and again, to bend or ignore the law and to misstate the facts in order to advance his far-left ideology lead me and others to conclude that he’d continue to do so if he were confirmed to another, and much more consequential, position of public trust.
“Take, for instance, his efforts, while on the Montgomery County Council, to get Canadian drugs imported to the U.S. According to The Washington Post, Perez tried to get the county to import these drugs even after a top FDA official said doing so would be, in his words, ‘undeniably illegal.’
“What was Perez’s response?
“’Federal law is muddled,’ he said at the time. ‘Sometimes you have to push the envelope.’
“Think about that statement: ‘Sometimes you have to push the envelope.’
“Is that the kind of approach to federal law we want in those we confirm to run federal agencies? Folks who think that if federal law is inconvenient to their ends they can simply characterize it as unclear and use that as an excuse to do what they want?
“If that’s not a red flag for those of us who have to review a presidential nominee, I don’t know what is.
“Now again, someone might say here that everybody in politics has to make judgments about how a given law is to be interpreted. Those who disagree with those judgments call it pushing the envelope.
“Mr. Perez, however, does not merely push the envelope; all too often, he circumvents or ignores a law with which he disagrees.
“A few examples:
“As a member of the Montgomery County Council, Mr. Perez pushed through a county policy that encouraged the circumvention of federal immigration law. Later, as head of the federal government’s top voting-rights watchdog, he refused to protect the right to vote for Americans of all races, in violation of the very law he was charged to enforce. In the same post at the Department of Justice, Mr. Perez directed the federal government to sue against the advice of career attorneys at his own office. In another case involving a Florida woman who was lawfully exercising her First Amendment right to protest an abortion clinic, the federal judge who threw out Mr. Perez’s lawsuit said he was ‘at a loss as to why the government chose to prosecute this particular case’ in the first place.
“This is what pushing the envelope means in the case of Mr. Perez: a flippant and dismissive attitude about the boundaries that everybody else has to follow for the sake of the liberal causes he believes in.
“In short, it means a lack of respect for the rule of law – and a lack of respect for the need of those in positions of power to follow it.
“Just as troubling, however, is the fact that when Mr. Perez has been called to account for his failures to follow the law, he has been less than forthright about his actions. When he testified that politics played no role in his office’s decision not to pursue charges against members of a far-left group who may have tried to prevent others from voting, for instance, the Department’s own watchdog said that ‘Perez’s testimony did not reflect the entire story,’ and a federal judge said that the evidence before him ‘appear[ed] to contradict…Perez’s testimony.’ Mr. Perez has also made misleading statements about this case, under oath, to Congress and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
“Mr. Perez’s involvement in an alleged quid pro quo deal with the City of St. Paul, Minnesota also fits the pattern. Here was a case where Mr. Perez was allegedly so concerned about a potential Supreme Court challenge to the legality of a theory he championed in housing discrimination suits known as ‘disparate impact,’ that he quietly worked out a deal with St. Paul officials whereby they’d withdraw their appeal to the Supreme Court of the disparate impact case if he arranged for the federal government to throw out two whistleblower complaints against St. Paul that could have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayers that had been falsely obtained. In the end, the two whistleblower complaints were dropped, and the Supreme Court never heard the disparate impact case. Mr. Perez has told investigators he hadn’t even heard of the disparate impact case until the Court initially decided to hear it. That’s been contradicted by HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Sara Pratt, who told investigators she and Mr. Perez discussed the case well before that.
“Taken together, all of this paints the picture, for me at least, not of a passionate liberal who sees himself as patiently operating within the system and through the democratic process to advance a particular set of strongly held beliefs, but a crusading ideologue whose conviction about his own rightness on the issues leads him to believe the law does not apply to him. Unbound by the rules that apply to everyone else, Mr. Perez seems to view himself as free to employ whatever means at his disposal, legal or otherwise, to achieve his ideological goals.
“To say this is problematic would be an understatement.
“As Secretary of Labor, Mr. Perez would be handling numerous contentious issues and implementing many politically sensitive laws, including laws enforcing the disclosure of political activity by unions. Mr. Perez’s devotion to the cause of involuntary universal voter registration is also deeply concerning to me personally, and I would imagine many of my colleagues in the Senate also believe in the absolute centrality of maintaining the integrity of the vote.
“Americans of all political persuasions have a right to expect that the head of such a sensitive federal department, whether appointed by a Republican or a Democrat, will implement and follow the law in a fair and reasonable way.
“But I do not believe they could expect as much from Mr. Perez.”