Perez Dismissed Bernie Supporters as ‘Young White Liberals’

Labor Sec used personal account to advise Clinton campaign during business hours

Tom Perez
Tom Perez / AP
October 17, 2016

Labor Secretary Tom Perez engaged in partisan political activities with the Clinton campaign during business hours using his personal email account, which is not covered by federal records laws, according to emails released by Wikileaks.

Perez sent a lengthy email to Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta on Feb. 5 detailing his observations from the campaign trail. He had just returned from making campaign appearances in New Hampshire and Nevada in the run up to Clinton’s tough primary battle with socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

"I think people will be surprised at how she is able to close the gap. I like the ‘vote with your head and your heart’ line, and I like the comeback on the establishment stuff," he said. "I think Nevada is the firewall on a number of levels, and the most important thing I want to communicate in this email is my strong belief that HRC should travel to Nevada asap after New Hampshire."

He also offered advice on how Clinton could inspire support from younger voters. He dismissed Sanders’ strong poll numbers among younger voters as limited to "young white liberals" and said that she needed to use "more pathos, or more real stories behind her really sound policy proposals."

"Nevada is an opportunity to fight back on so many levels. First, the current storyline is that she does not connect well with young voters," Perez wrote. "When we do well there, then the narrative changes from Bernie kicks ass among young voters to Bernie does well only among young white liberals—that is a different story and a perfect lead in to South Carolina, where once again, we can work to attract young voters of color."

Perez did not respond to request for comment.

Perez previously coordinated with Podesta using his government email account on the eve of his official endorsement and debut on the campaign trail, a potential violation of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from using government resources for partisan activities.

Perez’s use of his personal account could also violate federal law if he was on the clock at the time. He appears to have conducted government business on Feb. 5, posting a personal blog on the Department of Labor website and tweeting from his official government account prior to emailing Podesta.

"A federal employee cannot send or forward a partisan political email from either his government email account or his personal email account (even using a personal device) while at work," an Office of Special Counsel advisory on the Hatch Act says.

Perez provided Podesta with his personal email account during their initial Dec. 3 exchange and only communicated with the campaign chairman from the personal account after that. His use of his government account would subject him to federal record keeping, while emails sent from his personal account would not be susceptible to the Freedom of Information Act. Perez was criticized by Congress in 2013 for using his personal account to dodge FOIA.

The U.S. intelligence community has formally accused the Russian government of carrying out the hacks in order to influence the presidential election.