President Obama’s former Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, may have just stumbled in his bid to become the next Democratic National Committee Chair. The Intercept’s Matt Stoller is reporting that Tom Perez “has an established record of not taking on the banks” which may trouble some democrats as they seek to contrast themselves against a pro-business Trump administration. Stoller’s expose examines Perez’s record and decision-making as both Assistant Attorney General and Secretary of Labor, describing his tenure as “finance-friendly status quo.”
Dating back to February 2010, Tom Perez was the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. During this time, many banks raised interest rates on deployed soldiers. This is a direct violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The foreclosures took a toll on the veterans, with some even turning to suicide.
According to statute, violations of the SCRA should have resulted in criminal charges of the individual bankers who committed them. However, under Perez’s watch, no individual within the banks was held responsible for their violations.
Old habits don’t die. In 2013, when Perez left the Department of Justice to become Secretary of Labor, he took those very same policies with him, records show.
The Department of Labor has the ability to grant waivers to certain banks that have been found guilty of crimes. These waivers act as a pardon of sorts. Perez chose to grant waivers to big banks, even when they had pled guilty to conspiring in foreign exchange markets. Because of Perez’s decision to grant the waivers, the big banks were able to return to unlawfully handling pensions.
The race for DNC Chair is seen as a proxy war, largely between the extreme progressive wing and the democrat establishment who has cozied up to corporate interests. In a reflection of the 2016 primary battle, Senator Bernie Sanders is supporting Rep. Keith Ellison while Hillary Clinton’s allies are supporting Perez.
In a survey conducted by The Hill, Ellison is seen as the frontrunner.
Democrats will meet to choose a chair on February 25th in Atlanta, Georgia.