Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said he intends to block the nomination of civil rights attorney Thomas Perez to replace Hilda Solis as Labor secretary until the Department of Justice responds to Vitter’s 2011 letter asking for consistency in enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act in Louisiana.
Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was named in that letter.
“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,” said Vitter. “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.”
In the November 2011 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Vitter wrote that “valuable resources were used to send undercover investigators to my state of Louisiana to interview welfare recipients to determine if state welfare offices are urging them to register to vote,” while “absolutely no effort is being made to enforce Section 8 of the same law.” That involves the purge of ineligible felons and the deceased from voter rolls.
“Section 8 is a key component of the law, because the longer these fraudulent names remain on a registration list, the greater the chances that a fraudulent vote will be cast in their names. As we approach an important presidential election in 2012, your dedication to enforcing both sections of the law to avoid fraud is paramount,” Vitter wrote.
The senator noted that when Perez filed the lawsuit against Louisiana arising from that investigation, he stated, “The department is committed to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act so that neither income nor disability status stands in the way of equal voter registration opportunities for all citizens.”
“Justice must fully enforce this law, rather than refusing to enforce the voter list integrity provisions while making the welfare agency registration law its top priority. The Civil Rights Division does not have the right to pick and choose which laws are worthy of enforcement and which ones are not. I urge you to personally ensure that the Justice Department does not enable voter fraud by neglecting to enforce Section 8 of the NVRA,” Vitter wrote then.
President Obama announced Perez’s nomination at the White House just before noon.
“Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of opportunity,” Obama said.
Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants, spokes in both English and Spanish as he thanked the president for the “remarkably humbling” opportunity.