Several reports show that Tom Perez’s former employees at the Maryland Department of Labor were the ones who really wrote the letter of support from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce that served as an “endorsement” of his nomination by President Barack Obama to serve as U.S. Labor Secretary.
In early June, the Washington Examiner‘s Sean Higgins reported that internal emails in Maryland’s Department of Labor show that the Maryland Chamber of Commerce did not actually write its own letter endorsing Perez’s nomination. The emails, Higgins reported, show that the “person who actually wrote the chamber’s Perez endorsement was Scott Jensen, the department’s deputy secretary.”
“Jensen is a close ally of Perez,” Higgins wrote. “Jensen was a special assistant to Perez during the latter’s tenure as DLLR [Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation] secretary.” Perez served in that role after Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley nominated him in early 2007.
When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he nominated Perez for a position he continues to hold at the U.S. Department of Justice. Perez currently serves as Attorney General Eric Holder’s Assistant Attorney General overseeing the DOJ’s Civil Rights division.
Senate Democrats had touted the Maryland Chamber of Commerce letter of endorsement to try to push Perez past GOP opposition, despite the later revelation that the documents Higgins reported on, which were uncovered by government watchdog group Americans for Limited Government (ALG), show the letter was actually written by Perez’s political allies.
In a follow-up report in early July, the Examiner‘s Higgins noted that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) actually cited that specific letter during an April hearing as a sort of proof Perez was not as extreme as Republicans were saying. “They now have a letter in record. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is recommending Tom to be the secretary of labor,” Mikulski said during the hearing. “Why? Because he listens. He learns. He brings everyone to the table.”
Boyd Rutherford, the former Secretary of the Maryland Department of General Services, told Breitbart News that this revelation about Perez’s “endorsement” from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is potentially unseemly for public officials.
“I can say that such actions would have been considered unacceptable by the Ehrlich Administration,” Rutherford, who served under former Maryland Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, said. “I am certain the Governor’s counsel, Jerv Finney, would have had a fit if one of us had sought to have an outside organization weigh in on a matter such as this. Particularly an organization that we had official business with.”
“If nothing else it can give an appearance of favoritism or at worst coercion,” he explained.
Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government, the group that uncovered this potential conflict of interest, said he was equally appalled by the revelations. “As a Maryland taxpayer, I am offended that my tax dollars are being used to lobby for the confirmation of a federal government official,” Manning said in an email. “I am even more offended that based upon the emails, it appears that Thomas Perez has been orchestrating this abuse of state tax funds behind the scenes.”
Dan Bongino, the 2012 GOP U.S. Senate candidate who ran against Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), said this case exemplifies a larger problem with the Obama administration as a whole. “With the nomination of Mr. Perez, the administration continues its march towards a stifling regulatory environment designed to suffocate economic prosperity in a blanket of red tape,” Bongino said.
“With the recent revelations of government pressure, whether implicit or explicit, used to put on a false patina of approval from the business world, the disturbing practice of using government as a weapon of intimidation continues in Maryland,” he claimed.
Senate Democrats are fighting to confirm Perez to become Obama’s Secretary of Labor. They may try to force a vote in the next few weeks before the August recess.