Whistleblower Says Potential Hillary Veep Covered Up Corruption

Former Labor Department inspector accuses Perez of squashing whistleblowers

Tom Perez
Tom Perez / AP

A Labor Department whistleblower accused one of Hillary Clinton’s potential vice presidential picks of corruption and called for an investigation into corruption at the department.

Darrell Whitman, a former inspector at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, published a letter calling for a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption at the Labor Department. Whitman said that Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who is on the short list to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate, retaliated against investigators who attempted to curb corruption at the agency.

He sent the letter to American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox asking for the union’s support in his effort to protect whistleblowers at the department in late June.

"Evidence indicates the secretary authorized and/or ratified a retaliatory investigation, which led to my removal, the removal of two other highly qualified and experienced investigators, and the resignation of a fourth highly qualified investigator who was disgusted by these developments," the letter says. "By the end of 2015, five of the six Region IX investigators who actively objected to the corruption had been removed or forced out of their jobs."

Secretary Perez is no stranger to allegations of abuse from whistleblowers.

Senate Republicans nearly blocked his 2013 appointment over his handling of a corruption lawsuit as the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Perez scrapped a whistleblower suit worth $200 million against the city of St. Paul, Minn. after the city government dropped a Supreme Court appeal that threatened to reverse a precedent on the doctrine of disparate impact.

A House Oversight Committee investigation concluded that Perez acted inappropriately, while the St. Paul whistleblower called his treatment "appalling."

"Perez took steps attempting to cover-up his involvement in the quid pro quo and offered numerous misleading statements to investigators that are contradicted by the evidence," then-committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said in a release. "Mr. Perez’s conduct has stained the integrity of the Justice Department and created serious doubt about its commitment to protecting the legal rights of whistleblowers who come forward with legitimate information about abuses of taxpayer funds."

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) condemned the Senate Labor Committee for advancing his nomination, saying Perez was "wheeling and dealing … in a way that is inappropriate for an assistant attorney general."

Whitman said in his letter to Cox that Perez continued to use retaliatory tactics to handle whistleblowers at the Labor Department.

"Because of the involvement of the Secretary of Labor in a retaliatory investigation/cover-up and possible obstruction of justice, the DOL cannot conduct a credible investigation," Whitman said in the June 27 letter. "It is a tragic irony that the Department of Labor ranks near the bottom of the federal government in its respect for employee rights and interests. But that tragedy is compounded when it affects the ability of DOL employees to provide services to the American working public."

Neither the union, nor the department responded to request for comment.