Tom Perez, the Secretary of Labor considered to be on the short list of Hillary Clinton running mates, used a personal email account to leak information to The New York Times and Planned Parenthood while he worked at the Department of Justice’s office for civil rights.
The story made minor waves in April 2013 when California Rep. Darrell Issa subpoenaed Perez’s personal emails. But it has taken on new significance in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system and the Justice Department’s decision not to file charges against her for it.
Perez is not the only potential Clinton VP pick to be involved in a personal email scandal.
The Daily Caller reported earlier Wednesday that Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack used a personal email account while he served as governor of Iowa. He became involved in a scandal in 2004 when he admitted deleting work-related emails. (RELATED: One Of Hillary’s Top VP Picks Also Destroyed Emails, Used A Secret Account)
Perez’s use of personal email — which violated the Federal Records Act as well as mandates issued by the Obama White House — came to light as Republicans were investigating a deal that the progressive Democratic official brokered in 2012 between the DOJ and the city of St. Paul, Minn.
The Associated Press described the dilemma:
In the deal, Perez persuaded the city of St. Paul, Minn., to withdraw a lending discrimination lawsuit before it could be heard by the Supreme Court. In exchange, the Justice Department declined to join two whistleblower lawsuits against the city that could have returned millions of dollars in damages to the federal government.
Republicans have criticized the deal, which Justice Department officials say they reached out of concern the court might strike down their use of statistics in housing discrimination cases.
Perez gave the committee emails from his government account, but he failed to provide those from his personal email account.
According to the AP’s report from that time, a third party gave Congress emails that Perez sent on his personal Verizon account to an attorney for the city of St. Paul. Issa subpoenaed the rest of Perez’s emails in order to complete an investigation.
In a letter to Perez sent on April 18, Issa said that Peter J. Kadzik, the principal deputy assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, suggested that Perez used his personal email account almost 1,200 times since he took over at the office for civil rights in Oct. 2009.
“You used your personal, non-official account to conduct official Department business with at least twelve separate individuals from organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the New York Times, and Talking Points Memo,” Issa wrote.
“The e-mails reviewed by the Committee demonstrate substantial deficiencies in your compliance with the Federal Records Act,” Issa added.
He noted that in one email exchange, a Times reporter asked Perez how he should advise his colleagues regarding a DOJ announcement about a consent decree with the city of New Orleans.
Issa says that Perez gave the reporter non-public information.
“I would advise him to be there by noon on Tuesday. I would further advise him to give me a call if he wants,” Perez wrote to the reporter.
Perez advised the same journalist about plans for the DOJ to announce a settlement with Countrywide Financial Corp. in a Dec. 2011 email.
Perez wrote to the reporter: “[J]ust closed deal 15 minutes ago. Will announce tomorrow at 3.”
Issa said that the emails were not captured by the DOJ’s records management system until after his committee subpoenaed the documents. His April 2013 letter did not make reference to what Perez disclosed to Planned Parenthood. The committee was only allowed to review 34 of the 1,200 Perez emails, so it is unclear what other information he shared with non-government individuals.
“I am disappointed that you continue to resist the Committee’s oversight duties and that you have chosen not to fully comply with the terms of the subpoena issued on April 10, 2013,” Issa wrote to Perez.
Perez, Vilsack and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine are considered the most likely choices for Clinton’s running mate. She is expected to announce a decision before the Democratic National Convention at the end of the month.