In a new report released Sunday, GOP lawmakers accuse Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez of misusing power during his time as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, once again criticizing one of President Obama's cabinet nominees.
They cited a case last year when Perez persuaded the city of St. Paul Minnesota to withdraw a housing discrimination case before it could be heard by the Supreme Court. GOP lawmakers claim Perez misused his power and in exchange the Justice Department agreed not to intervene in two whistleblower cases against St. Paul that had at stake at least $200 million taxpayer dollars.
Perez defended his reason for wanting St. Paul's case dropped arguing that he only wanted to prevent an adverse Supreme Court ruling from jeopardizing the government's use of statistics to win housing discrimination cases.
But Republicans aren't buying it and are accusing Perez of misleading senior officials. They say he tried to cover up the real reason for his decision not to intervene in the whistleblower cases.
"This offer was inappropriate and potentially violated Perez's duty of loyalty to his client, the United States," said the report from Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, California Rep. Darrell Issa and Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
Top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee issued their own report on the investigation Sunday, writing that Perez "acted professionally to advance the interests of civil rights and effectively combat the scourge of housing discrimination."
The Justice Department also defended Perez in a statement, saying litigation decisions made by the department "were in the best interests of the United States and were consistent with the department's legal, ethical and professional responsibility obligations."
After the Justice Department declined to join the cases against St. Paul, one was dismissed and the other is still being litigated by a private plaintiff.