Reps. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Andy Harris, R-Md., alleged in a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the White House’s nominee to head up the Labor Department, withheld information from a congressional subpoena.
The subpoena ordered Perez to turn over all private emails that related to his official government business. Republicans believe Obama administration officials are using such private accounts to circumvent government transparency laws. The letter alleges Perez has not turned over any of an estimated 1,200 relevant emails and allowed only 34 to be viewed by congressional investigators at DOJ headquarters.
“We are concerned about compliance with the Federal Records Act and this apparent pattern of use of personal e-mail,” said Wolf and Harris in the letter. They note that Holder personally told a congressional hearing that Perez had complied with the subpoena.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a similar letter last night directly to Perez, also alleging he has not produced a single email in compliance with the subpoena.
Perez’s nomination will be before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Wednesday afternoon.
His Republican critics have been highlighting an unusual quid pro quo he arranged with the city of St. Paul, Minn. Perez, who is currently the Justice Department's top civil rights enforcer, arranged to get the federal government to drop out of two cases pending against city. In exchange, the city dropped a case it was pursuing that could have let the Supreme Court clarify when the legal theory of “disparate impact” could be used in civil rights cases. Perez is a staunch advocate of the theory, which holds that it is not necessary to show an intent to discriminate to prove such a case. Republicans allege Perez tried to hide the fact that he was making the deal from others in the government. The Republicans believe the emails will shed light on the matter.
The letter from Wolf and Harris, dated April 26, can be read below.