Republican Sen. David Vitter vowed Monday to block President Obama's nominee for Labor secretary, citing a past run-in with his state of Louisiana as well as the nominee's role in the controversial voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party.
The president on Monday tapped Justice Department official Thomas Perez for the Labor post. The candidate, though, was already being questioned over a newly released report that found he gave incomplete testimony on the decision to drop charges against members of the new Black Panthers.
"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 Louisianians most certainly should have cause for concern about this nomination," Vitter said in a statement.
The senator went on to cite a separate incident in which the Justice Department filed suit against Louisiana over its voter registration efforts. Vitter's office said he would block the Perez nomination until the Justice Department responds to a 2011 letter on the issue.
"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 Louisianian on the voter rolls," Vitter said.
Perez, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, would replace Hilda Solis at Labor if confirmed. Obama, touting Perez' personal story as the son of immigrants who became the first lawyer in his family, urged the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
"Tom's knowledge and experience will make him an outstanding secretary of Labor," Obama said.
The new report by the Justice Department's inspector general, though, is likely to provide fodder for Republicans like Vitter. The report challenged testimony Perez gave to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, when he claimed in 2010 that no political leadership was involved in the decision to dismiss three of the four defendants in a lawsuit the George W. Bush administration brought against the New Black Panther Party. The high-profile case involved allegations of voter intimidation outside a Philadelphia polling place in the 2008 election.
The IG report found that, despite Perez' testimony, top political appointees were looped in on the decision-making. Further, the report said Attorney General Eric Holder "was briefed and generally indicated his approval" of a decision to dismiss some of the defendants.
"We found that Perez's testimony did not reflect the entire story regarding the involvement of political appointees," said the report. Read more via Fox News...