The New DNC Chair Had a Hillary Clinton-Esque Email Scandal

Unlike VP Mike Pence, DNC's Tom Perez violated email laws

Tom Perez
Tom Perez / Getty Images
March 4, 2017

Democrats and members of the media have seized on a Thursday report that Vice President Mike Pence used a personal email account while serving as Indiana's governor, attempting to brand Pence as a hypocrite for attacking Hillary Clinton's use of an unsecured private email server throughout the campaign.

Longtime Clinton adviser Paul Begala said that he was "sickened" by the "staggering" hypocrisy, and reporters took time to ask whether he has gained any "sympathy" for the way that Clinton dealt with her emails.

Pence said that there was "no comparison whatsoever" between what he did and what Clinton did. His office has called the attempt to compare his email use to Clinton's as "absurd," noting that it was legal for him to use the account, that he was using a commercial AOL account rather than a private server, and that he was not handling classified information.

A more apt comparison to Clinton would be to the newly elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez, who as a lawyer at President Obama's Department of Justice frequently used his personal email account to conduct agency business.

Congressional investigators found that Perez used his personal email account to conduct DOJ business 1,200 times since 2009, and the department conceded in a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that Perez had committed at least 34 violations of the Federal Records Act.

The investigation concluded that Perez "likely violated both the spirit and letter of the Federal Records Act."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who chaired the committee at the time of the investigation, issued a subpoena for the 1,200 emails, but his demand was ignored by Perez.

The investigation was sparked by a deal that Perez brokered at DOJ with the city of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Perez agreed to not participate in two whistleblower lawsuits against St. Paul that the Associated Press reported could have returned millions of dollars in damages to the federal government. In exchange, St. Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman withdrew a discrimination lawsuit that was heading to the Supreme Court.

The subpoena for Perez's personal emails was issued after investigators obtained an email that Perez sent to lawyers for St. Paul using his personal email account. Perez told investigators that he had no recollection of using his personal email to discuss the matter.

"It appears that your use of your personal, non-official email account to conduct official department business has been frequent and routine," Issa wrote to Perez.

The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), urged Perez to cooperate with the subpoena.

Investigators also alleged that Perez used his personal email address for communications with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the New York Times, and Talking Points Memo.

Perez was confirmed as Labor Secretary in 2013 despite his decision to ignore the subpoena from Congress. The subpoena was seen as a reason that Perez was not tapped to succeed Eric Holder as attorney general.

Perez has not been asked about his email practices since he was elected DNC chairman last weekend.