President Barack Obama’s controversial labor secretary nominee is already under fire for his selective approach to racial discrimination as well as his ties to liberal billionaire George Soros.
The administration officially tapped Tom Perez to succeed Hilda Solis as head of the Department of Labor on Monday morning.
"Today I'm proud to nominate ... as America's next secretary of labor, Tom Perez," President Obama said on Monday morning. "Tom knows what it's like to climb the American ladder of opportunity … his story reminds us of this country's promise … it doesn't matter what your last name is as long as you work hard."
"Over my career I've learned that true progress is possible if you keep an open mind … and focus on results," Perez said. "Together with our partners in organized labor, the business community, and the grassroots … we can keep making progress for all working families."
Perez spent his career in liberal activism before entering elected office as a Montgomery County, Md., councilman in 2002.
Prior to running for office, Perez was the president of CASA de Maryland, a Latino advocacy group that admittedly served immigrants regardless of legal status.
The group attracted financial support of George Soros and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela after Perez’s tenure as president ended. CASA received more than $750,000 from groups linked to the billionaire hedge fund manager, as well as $1.5 million from Citgo, the state-owned oil company that helped make the socialist dictator a billionaire.
Perez’s ties to far-left groups did not surprise labor watchdogs such as Fred Wszolek, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute.
"His record is reflexively liberal on every issue he’s worked on. We expect the same from him when he is leading the charge on labor," he said.
Perez’s immigration activism has inspired a number of lucrative consulting contracts as well as prestigious board appointments to liberal groups.
Perez received thousands of dollars in consulting fees for his work with the Public Health Institute, a nonprofit group that has received $260,000 from George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation. Perez consulted for the California Endowment between 2001 and 2009; the group is interested in expanding insurance coverage to low-income earners, including immigrants.
The endowment is listed as a partnering grant-writing organization to the anti-war Tides Foundation.
Perez served as a board member to the left-wing Center for American Progress Action Fund, which has received more than $7 million from Soros since 2004. From 2007 to 2009, Perez served on the anti-poverty group ActionAid, which received $2.2 million from Tides and several of its partner foundations.
Perez has already drawn scrutiny from conservatives for his role in dismissing the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case as head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has also warned that Perez will "face a lot of tough questions" for his role in the DOJ dropping a False Claims Act case against the city of St. Paul, Minn.
Other Republican senators are holding their fire for now.
"I look forward to meeting with Mr. Perez and examining his record and qualifications," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. "Any nominee for this position should be ready and able to work with both parties in Congress to make it easier for the private sector to create good jobs for the 12 million workers still unemployed now more than three and a half years after the recession ended."
Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee slammed Obama for choosing controversy over consensus.
"I am disappointed that President Obama has nominated for labor secretary an individual with such a controversial record. With 12 million Americans out of work, the president should have selected a consensus candidate who could work with Congress—Republicans and Democrats alike—to promote a safe workplace and a growing economy," committee member Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.) said. "We must work together to empower job creators, and I hope Mr. Perez's nomination doesn't distract from what should be our top priority: getting Americans back to work."
Wszolek said the ties to Soros and other far-left groups will increase the controversy over Perez’s nomination.
"Any Obama labor secretary represents problems for employers and economic growth," he said. "What’s puzzling about this pick is that they had the opportunity to tap some high profile lawmakers—[former Michigan Gov. Jennifer] Granholm and a few others— and instead they picked a highly controversial, but not very visible character."