Sen. David Vitter said on Monday that a previous dispute with Louisiana involving President Barack Obama’s nominee for Labor Secretary and his role in a voter-intimidation case with the New Black Panther Party were reasons why he would block Thomas Perez’s nomination.
Perez, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, was nominated by Obama on Monday, Fox News reports
He already is under fire for a report released last week that found he gave incomplete testimony on a decision to drop charges against the New Black Panthers in the 2008 Philadelphia voter case, Fox reports.
“Thomas Perez's record should be met with great suspicion by my colleagues for his spotty work related to the New Black Panther case, but Louisianans most certainly should have cause for concern about this nomination,” the two-term Republican said in a statement.
Vitter said he would block Perez’s nomination until the Justice Department responded to a letter the senator wrote in 2011 in which the Justice Department sued Louisiana over its voter-registration efforts.
“Perez was greatly involved in the DOJ's partisan full-court press to pressure Louisiana’s Secretary of State to only enforce one side of the law — the side that specifically benefits the politics of the president and his administration at the expense of identity security of each and every Louisianan on the voter rolls,” Vitter said.
Perez was nominated to succeed Hilda Solis, Fox reports. Obama urged the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
“Tom's knowledge and experience will make him an outstanding secretary of labor,” Obama said, Fox reports.
Perez, the first lawyer in his family, is the son of immigrants.
But a report by the Justice Department's inspector general questioned testimony Perez gave to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Perez claimed in 2010 that he was under no political pressure to dismiss three of the four New Black Panther defendants in a lawsuit brought by the George W. Bush administration, Fox reports.
The case involved allegations of voter intimidation outside a Philadelphia polling place in the 2008 election.
The report found that, contrary to Perez’ testimony, top Obama administration officials were involved in his decision — and Attorney General Eric Holder “was briefed and generally indicated his approval” of the decision to dismiss some of the defendants, Fox reports.
“We found that Perez's testimony did not reflect the entire story regarding the involvement of political appointees,” the Justice Department’s report said.
“We did not find that Perez intentionally misled the commission,” the report said, according to Fox. “Nevertheless, given he was testifying as a department witness before the commission, we believe that Perez should have sought more details . . . about the nature and extent of the participation of political employees in the NBPP decision in advance of his testimony before the commission.”
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