Thomas Perez

Thomas Perez

Thomas Perez
26th United States Secretary of Labor
Incumbent
Assumed office
July 23, 2013
Deputy Christopher P. Lu
Preceded by Seth Harris (Acting)
Assistant United States Attorney General
for the Civil Rights Division
In office
October 8, 2009 – July 23, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Wan Kim
Succeeded by Joycelyn Samuels (Acting)
Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
In office
March 15, 2007 – October 7, 2009
Governor Martin O'Malley
Preceded by James Fielder
Succeeded by Alexander Sanchez
Personal details
Born Thomas Edward Perez
(1961-10-07) October 7, 1961
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ann Marie Staudenmaier
Children Amalia
Susana
Rafael
Alma mater Brown University
Harvard University
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature

Thomas Edward Perez (born October 7, 1961) is an American politician, consumer advocate and civil rights lawyer, who is the current United States Secretary of Labor. A member of the Democratic Party, Perez has served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Perez is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School. Perez worked as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado before working in the Department of Justice from 1989 to 1995, where he worked as a federal prosecutor, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. He worked as a Special Counselor for Senator Ted Kennedy until 1998 when he served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the final years of the Clinton administration.

Perez was then elected to the Montgomery County (Maryland) Council in 2002, serving as the council's president from 2005, until the end of his tenure in 2006. After a failed campaign for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of Maryland, Perez was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to serve as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) in January 2007, until his October 2009 confirmation by the United States Senate as Assistant Attorney General.

On March 18, 2013, Perez was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the United States Secretary of Labor, replacing outgoing Secretary Hilda Solis. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 18 and sworn in on July 23, 2013.

Early life and education

Thomas Edward Perez was born and raised in

Political offices
Preceded by
Derick Berlage
Member of the Montgomery County Council
from the 5th District

2002–2006
Succeeded by
Valerie Ervin
Preceded by
James Fielder
Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Alexander Sanchez
Preceded by
Wan Kim
Assistant United States Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division
2009–2013
Succeeded by
Joycelyn Samuels
Acting
Preceded by
Hilda Solis
United States Secretary of Labor
2013–present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Penny Pritzker
as Secretary of Commerce
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
as Secretary of Health and Human Services
United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Penny Pritzker
as Secretary of Commerce
10th in line
as Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
as Secretary of Health and Human Services

External links

  1. ^  

References

See also

In May 2014, Perez was given an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Oberlin College.[140]

On May 21, 2014, Perez received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Drexel University School of Law.[139]

In 2014 Perez received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Brown University.[138]

Awards and Honors

Perez lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with his wife Ann Marie Staudenmaier, an attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and their three children.

Personal life

Amid a push by Senate Democrats in July 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for all executive-branch nominees, senators struck a deal to pave the way for a final, up-or-down vote on Perez's nomination. With that, senators on July 17, 2013 voted 60-40 for cloture on Perez's nomination, thus formally ending the filibuster of his nomination.[135] On July 18, 2013, the Senate voted 54-46 to confirm Perez as secretary of Labor.[136] It was the first Senate Confirmation, in the history of the United States, where his confirmation was strictly by a partly line vote, an issue noted by many press observers as "historic."[137]

After his nomination was pushed back to May 8, 2013 to give Senate Democrats more time to review Perez's role in Magner v. Gallagher,[131] it was ultimately pushed back to a May 16 committee vote,[132] where Perez's nomination cleared the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, in a party line vote of 12-10.[133] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) postponed until July a full Senate vote on his nomination.[134]

At his confirmation hearing on April 18, 2013,[129] Perez was questioned for his involvement in Magner v. Gallagher and the NBPP case, as well as the Obama administration's plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25, to $9 an hour.[130]

Before his hearing, Republican members of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subpoenaed Perez's personal e-mails[126] and released a 64-page report[127] into Perez's actions in the St. Paul whistleblower case, saying that Perez "manipulated justice and ignored the rule of law".[128]

Thomas Perez at his Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Labor.

Perez's nomination was criticized by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Pat Roberts (R-KS),[116] as well as the The Wall Street Journal editorial board,[117] for his decision not to intervene in a whistleblower case against Saint Paul, Minnesota in return for the city dropping a case before the Supreme Court (Magner v. Gallagher), which could have undermined the disparate impact theory of discrimination.[118] His nomination was also opposed by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for his views on immigration and his association with Casa de Maryland, calling the nomination "an unfortunate and needlessly divisive nomination".[119][120] Perez's nomination was supported by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (the committee that oversees the United States Department of Labor).[121] His nomination was also supported by labor groups, such as the AFL-CIO and the United Farm Workers of America,[122][123] as well as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Women's Law Center.[124][125]

On March 18, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Perez for the position of United States Secretary of Labor, succeeding outgoing Secretary Hilda Solis.[115]

President Barack Obama and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez during Perez's nomination for Secretary of Labor.

Secretary of Labor

On April 15, 2013, members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary released a joint staff report accusing Perez of serious misconduct. According to the report, Perez brokered a secretive, back-room agreement with the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. Under the agreement, St. Paul would dismiss its then-pending appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Magner v. Gallagher, and Perez would have the U.S. Department of Justice drop two lawsuits against the city. Those two lawsuits accused St. Paul of fraudulently acquiring federal funds that were part of the federal "stimulus" program, and in those cases the federal government could have recovered up to $200 million of taxpayer money that St. Paul allegedly acquired by fraud. Perez wanted St. Paul to dismiss the Magner lawsuit because the lawsuit argued that the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 does not create liability under a controversial legal doctrine known as disparate impact, and the Supreme Court seemed likely to accept that argument. According to the congressional report, Perez's conduct relating to that agreement likely violated the federal False Claims Act and Perez's duties of loyalty and confidentiality to the United States, duties which arise under rules of ethics and professional responsibility.

Controversy

In the same report, the Inspector General found that the Civil Rights department exhibited a clear priority in enforcing the motor-voter provisions of the NVRA over the list-maintenance provisions. However, the Inspector General did not find sufficient evidence to include that these differences in enforcement were for political reasons.[113] In particular, they found that Perez sent letters about list-maintenance enforcement in December 2010, so as not to be viewed as interfering with the 2010 elections.[113] However, this letter provided no guidance on how states were to enforce list-maintenance procedures, instead leaving it up to the states.[114] Overall, the report stated that: "The conduct that we discovered and document in this report reflects a disappointing lack of professionalism by some Department employees over an extended period of time, during two administrations, and across various facets of the Voting Section’s operations."[113]

On May 14, 2010, Perez testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that political leadership was not involved in the decision to dismiss three of the four defendants in the NBPP case. However, on March 12, 2013, the Department of Justice Inspector General released a report stating that Perez's testimony did not reflect the entire story, as AAG Perelli and DAAG Sam Hirsch were involved in consultations on the case. However, the Inspector General found that Perez did not know about these consultations at the time of his testimony, and therefore he did not intentionally mislead the commission. However, because of his role as a Department witness, the Inspector General believed that Perez should have inquired further on this issue before testifying.[113]

New Black Panther Party case

Perez also oversaw the Obama administration’s efforts in challenging a 2011 voter ID law signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry; being the second voter ID law consequently found to have violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.[108] Addressing the Supreme Court case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, where the court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s photo ID requirement, Perez argued that “[Texas’s] submission did not include evidence of significant in-person voter impersonation not already addressed by the state's existing laws.”[109] Perez also stressed data from the Texas Department of Public Safety that found that registered Hispanic voters were 46.5% to 120% less likely than non-Hispanic voters to have a government issued driver’s license or state required photo ID.[110][111][112]

The Obama administration directed Perez and the Civil Rights Division in challenging South Carolina’s 2011 voter ID law, over concerns that the law violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[105] Perez successfully blocked the law from taking effect, after the Justice Department alleged South Carolina of failing to prove that the law wouldn't have a disproportionate effect on minority voters.[106] In a letter to South Carolina’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General, C. Havird Jones, Jr.,[107] Perez questioned whether 81,000 registered voters, all of whom minorities who didn’t have government issued or military photo identification, would be able to exercise their right to vote, citing “significant racial disparities in the proposed photo identification requirement."[107]

Voter I.D. laws

Voting rights

In May 2012, after the end of a three year investigation, Perez led his division in a lawsuit against Maricopa County, the MCSO and Arpaio, for violating Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.[102] Though the suit was criticized by Arpaio as a political move by the Obama administration,[103] Perez called the suit an "abuse-of-power case involving a sheriff and sheriff’s office that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, compromised public safety and did not hesitate to retaliate against his perceived critics.”[104]

Perez released a 22-page report[96] on discriminatory and racial biases against Latinos by the MCSO, and Arpaio.[100] The report found that the MCSO mistreated and used racial slurs against Spanish-speaking inmates; Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely than non-Latino drivers to be stopped in identical non-criminal instances; 20% of stops and seizures, almost all of them involving Latino’s, were legally unjustified, violating the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and the MCSO and sheriff’s deputies engaged in retaliation against individuals who participated in demonstrations against the office’s policies regarding immigration.[96] Arpaio was also found to have used racial and ethnic description, such as "individuals with dark skin" and "individuals speaking Spanish” as justification for immigration raids on businesses and homes; overlooking criminal activity as vindication for immigration raids led by the MCSO.[101]

An expanded investigation leading into Perez’s tenure over “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures,”[97] led to a lawsuit by the Justice Department after Arpaio rejected the Department’s request for documents regarding the investigation; becoming the first time that the federal government sued a local law enforcement agency concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, since the 1970s.[98][99]

In June 2008, the Civil Rights Division opened an investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, after allegations that the MCSO was engaged in a pattern of practice of unlawful conduct.[96]

Maricopa County, Arizona investigation

After homeless Native American woodcarver, John T. Williams, was fatally shot by the Seattle Police Department in 2010, Perez led an eight-month investigation into the use of excessive force by the SPD.[93] After the end of the Division’s investigation, along with Jenny Durkan, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Western Washington, Perez released a report citing “constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing” by the SPD.[94] A settlement was later reached between the Civil Rights Division and the city of Seattle; requiring the city to create a Community Police Commission, have the SPD under the supervision of an independent, court-appointed monitor and encouraging police officers to de-escalate nonviolent confrontations by decreasing their use of force.[95]

After the Sanford, Florida in 2012, Perez was brought in by Representative Alcee Hastings and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplet to investigate the police department's handling of the case.[90] A full-scale investigation was later launched by the Civil Rights Division, where Perez led an inquiry on the shooting investigation. After a thorough investigation was promised by Attorney General Eric Holder, Perez went to Florida, meeting with U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neil, family members of Trayvon Martin and local officials to investigate if the shooting was a racially motivated hate crime.[91] The Justice Department launched a probe into Sanford police chief Bill Lee, where he was later fired two months after the beginning of the investigation.[92]

Perez giving a speech in Washington D.C.

Police discrimination

After a “comprehensive investigation” by the Civil Rights Division of a juvenile facility in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, Perez’s division found multiple violations of due process and Miranda rights of African-American and disabled students at Meridian, Mississippi schools by the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services.[86] The investigation described local and state authorities of running a “school-to-prison pipeline,”[87] by incarcerating students for minor school disciplinary infractions, such as violating school dress code guidelines.[88] The Justice Department found a pattern of the Mississippi authorities failing to assess probable cause that unlawful offenses against the students had been committed, and that students were held in jail without the benefit of a hearing, a lawyer or Miranda rights;[86] with Perez saying that “the systematic disregard for children’s basic constitutional rights by agencies with a duty to protect and serve these children betrays the public trust.”[89]

The Civil Rights Division reached a settlement with the Anoka-Hennepin School District in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area, after the districts school board voted to repeal its policy prohibiting teachers from mentioning homosexuality in the classroom.[83] Student's who brought the lawsuit accused the district of creating a "hostile, anti-gay environment" and not doing enough to protect LGBT students.[84] Perez praised the school board's decision, saying that the settlement is a "comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform that will enhance the district's policies, training and other efforts to ensure that every student is free from sex-based harassment."[85]

In 2009, the Civil Rights Division under Perez's tenure filed suit against two schools in New York for "alleged violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972."[79] The plaintiff, a 14 year old High School student from Mohawk, New York, who "dyes his hair, and wears make-up and nail polish,"[80] was subjected to verbal sex-based harassment and was "threatened, intimidated, and physically assaulted based on his non-masculine expression."[80] In J.L. v Mohawk Central School District, the settlement required the school district to begin "training staff in appropriate ways to address harassment," to "review its policies and procedures governing harassment" and "report to the New York Civil Liberties Union (who previously represented the student in the lawsuit), as well as the Department of Justice, on these efforts as well as its ongoing response".[81] This was the first time since the Clinton administration that Title IX was applied to gender identity discrimination.[82]

Student discrimination

Perez oversaw the division responsible of the implementation, and training of local enforcement in response of the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act;[75] including overseeing the first hate crime conviction under the law, in the racially motivated murder of James Craig Anderson.[76] Perez endorsed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2009, citing it one of his "top priorities,"[77] and at his first testimony after being confirmed as Assistant Attorney General, he said that "LGBT individuals not being currently protected against discrimination in the workplace is perhaps one of the most gaping holes in our nation’s civil rights laws."[78]

Perez revamped Justice Department efforts in pursuing federal settlements and consent agreements under the Americans With Disabilities Act.[73] One of Perez's main focuses was on the discrimination of individuals with HIV/AIDS, saying that it is "critical that we continue to work to eradicate discriminatory and stigmatizing treatment towards individuals with HIV based on unfounded fears and stereotypes."[74]

On March 31, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Perez to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.[68] The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Perez's nomination on April 29, 2009, and on June 4, 2009, the committee voted 17-2 to send Perez's nomination to the full Senate.[69] According to Main Justice, an independent, non-partisan news Web site, Perez's nomination languished for several months amid questions by Republican senators about his record on immigration matters and by controversy over the Obama Justice Department's dismissal of a voter intimidation case against the militant New Black Panther Party.[70] Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) characterized the opposition as foot-dragging and "posturing for narrow special interests."[71] The full United States Senate ultimately confirmed Perez on October 6, 2009 in a bipartisan 72-22 vote.[72] Only two Senators spoke out against the nomination: Tom Coburn (R-OK) and David Vitter (R-LA).[71]

Perez's official Justice Department portrait

Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

During his first term as Governor, O'Malley pushed proposals to expand gambling in Maryland, with Perez spearheading the legalization of slot machines in the state.[63] The legislation was a central part of a plan to raise revenue to close Maryland's budget deficit (keeping revenue from crossing state lines), though Perez was criticized by many in his own party as the measure was seen as a regressive way to raise revenue.[64] Perez commissioned a report led by the DLLR[65] arguing that that the legalization of slots would be necessary to preserve Maryland's horse racing and breeding industries, with new revenue helping to address the issues of public education and school construction.[66] The plan was approved in a state referendum by voters in the 2008 election, allowing 15,000 new slot machines in the state.[67]

Perez served as co-chair of the Maryland Workforce Creation and Adult Education Transition Council, alongside Maryland State State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, after Governor O'Malley moved the Maryland Adult Education and Literacy Services Program, the adult correctional education and GED Testing Office from the Department of Education, to the Department of Labor.[58] The council oversaw the extensive transition process, while commissioning a report on proposals to revamp the state the adult education system and identifying inefficiencies in the state correctional education budget.[59] Though the shift of the programs to the DLLR was proposed to "allow the state to save money and create a more unified workforce system,"[60] the decision was criticized by adult education providers in the state[61] and was seen as a political move by O'Malley to undermine the control of the agency from Superintendent Grasmich.[62]

Perez was a top adviser to O'Malley on Maryland's healthcare workforce shortage.[56] Perez helped develop a plan relieving the chronic shortage of nurses in Maryland, allowing immigrants who have nursing qualifications in their home countries, to have their certifications count towards becoming a registered nurse in the state.[57]

After then-Governor Robert Ehrlich vetoed an attempt to implement a living wage law in Maryland in 2004,[53] Perez helped lead the reintroduction of a similar bill in 2007.[54] After the bill passed and was signed by Governor O'Malley, Perez announced new provisions for out of state contractors and subcontractors doing business in Maryland, subjecting them to the same standards as in state businesses.[55]

Perez's Official Portrait as Maryland's Secretary of DLLR

As head of the Department of Labor, Perez led efforts to target Maryland companies who were engaging in workplace fraud; imposing new restrictions on the employee misclassification as independent contractors.[50] He helped with the implementation of H.R. 1590, the Workplace Fraud Act of 2009, imposing penalties for employers who falsely classify their employees as independent contractors; primarily leading to tax evasion by the employers, and the denial of worker protections and health insurance benefits to employees.[51] In May 2009, Governor O'Malley signed the Workplace Fraud Act, with Perez saying that the act would "ensure that employers who attempt to cheat the system, their workers and their competitors, will pay a steep price for their actions."[52]

After his failed campaign for attorney general, on January 23, 2007, newly elected Governor Martin O'Malley announced the nomination of Perez to run the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.[49]

Maryland Secretary of Labor

Amid the campaign, questions over whether Perez was permitted to run under Maryland's State Constitution, due to a requirement that candidates for attorney general must have at least 10 years of previous experience practicing law in Maryland, (as Perez only became a member of the Maryland State Bar Association in 2001).[43] The lawsuit was filed by Stephen N. Abrams, a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education and the 2006 Republican candidate for Comptroller of Maryland.[44] Abrams argued that it was "absolutely wrong to say that Perez met the 10-year requirement," after he was cleared by the Maryland State Board of Elections, and received legal advice from Attorney General Curran, who said that his time as a federal prosecutor in Maryland seemingly met the requirement.[45] The lawsuit, which was brought before the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, was ultimately rejected two months before primary; though Abrams appealed, bringing the case before the Maryland Court of Appeals.[46] After the case was brought before Maryland's highest court, Perez's bid for Attorney General was rejected,[47] shifting his resources to support Martin O'Malley in his 2006 campaign for Governor of Maryland.[48]

Perez's main challengers were Montgomery County State's Attorney Doug Gansler, and Stuart O. Simms, a Baltimore lawyer who formerly served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.[41] Gansler, who saw an early start in campaign contributions, raised over $1.4 million, compared to Perez's $200,000.[42]

After speculation arose that 20 year incumbent Attorney General of Maryland Joseph Curran would announce his retirement in 2006, Perez was seen as a top contender to replace him as Attorney General.[39] On May 23, 2006, after Curran formally announced he wouldn't run for reelection, Perez officially launched his candidacy for Attorney General, in a three city tour alongside former Maryland Attorney General and United States Attorney Stephen H. Sachs; who said that, "I'm drawn to Tom Perez, because of what I'm going to call character," and that "he does not trim his conscience to fit this year's fashion."[40] He also saw the backing from top labor groups, such as Maryland's State Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union.[40]

Maryland Attorney General Campaign

In 2004, Perez, and fellow council member Marilyn Praisner, introduced a county wide initiative pushing for affordable prescription drugs for county employees and retires.[35] Setting up a voluntary program to import high-quality, lower priced prescription drugs from suppliers in Canada approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[36] The initiative was overwhelmingly passed by the council, though Montgomery County was denied a waiver by the FDA thorough the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act;[37] leading to a lawsuit by Montgomery County against Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, where the U.S. District Court for Maryland granted the FDA the right to dismiss.[38]

Perez was opposed to the privatization of the nonprofit health insurer CareFirst, a non-stock holding, independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; providing coverage in Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C. and Virginia.[32][33] He lobbied for support on the county council and in the Maryland General Assembly against the sale of CareFirst to Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc.[32] He led the council to an anonymous decision against the acquisition, leading to the rejection of the merger by Maryland's Commissioner of Insurance, with Perez saying that, "This is a victory for grassroots activism. A dynamite grassroots coalition defeated well-heeled lobbyists because we had the facts and the truth on our side".[34]

Alongside council member Mike Subin, Perez pushed legislation for protections against predatory lending, among other abusive lending practices.[30] The law allowed for the Montgomery County Commission on Human Rights to investigate and prosecute loan brokers and third party lenders engaging in predatory lending, expanding the compensation cap for those who are victims of predatory lending cases, and requiring the commission to provide an annual report to the council and the county executive on discriminatory lending practices and on subprime lending patterns in the county.[31]

During his tenure, Perez served on the committees for Health and Humans Services, and Transportation and the Environment.[28] He also served as Council President from 2004 to 2005.[29]

Perez served in Montgomery's 5th district from 2002 to 2006, representing 175,000 residents in Silver Spring, Kensington, Takoma Park and Wheaton.[27]

After leaving the Clinton administration, Perez saw interest in running for a seat on the Montgomery County Council. Perez's main challenge was in the Democratic primary, where he faced Sally Sternbach, the head of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and the Greater Silver Spring's Chamber of Commerce.[24] With the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and receiving the support from other labor groups, he beat Sternbach in the democratic primary.[24][25] Perez faced Republican Dennis E. Walsh in the November 5th general election, handily winning with 76% of the vote, becoming the first Latino ever elected to the Council.[26]

Montgomery County Council

[23] From 2001 until 2007, Perez was a professor at the

From 1995 until 1998, Perez served as Special Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, and was Senator Kennedy's principal adviser on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues.[20] For the final two years of the Clinton administration, Perez served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.[21]

Perez spent 12 years in federal public service, from 1989 until 2001. He spent the bulk of his federal public service at the United States Department of Justice. He was a federal prosecutor for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice from 1989 to 1995.[16] In so doing, he prosecuted and supervised the prosecution of some of the Department's most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate crime case in Texas involving a gang of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially motivated crime spree directed at African Americans.[17] He later served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno.[18] Among other responsibilities, Perez chaired the inter-agency Worker Exploitation Task Force, which oversaw a variety of initiatives designed to protect vulnerable workers.[19]

Perez has spent his entire career in public service. He began his law career as a law clerk for Judge Zita Weinshienk of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado from 1987 to 1989.[15]

Professional career

Perez received his Bachelor of Arts in international relations and political science from Brown University in 1983.[8] He also received his Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School and a Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1987.[9] While attending Brown, Perez put himself through college with the help of scholarships and Pell Grants, while also working as a trash collector and in a warehouse to help pay for the cost of his tuition.[10][11] Perez later gained a position working in the Sharpe Refectory (Brown University's dining hall) and for the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.[12][13] During his time at Harvard Law, Perez worked as a law clerk for then Attorney General Edwin Meese in 1986.[14]

[7] private school, in 1979.Jesuit Roman Catholic, an all men's Canisius High School He graduated from [6] suffered the loss of their father when he died of a heart attack, when Perez was 12 years old.[5] Perez, who was the youngest of four brother and sisters (all of whom followed their father in becoming physicians),[4]'s regime.Rafael Trujillo Dominican President by his own government, for speaking out against persona non grata. She later remained in the U.S. after Ambassador Brache was declared Dominican Republic's Ambassador to the United States His mother, Grace, came to the United States in 1930 after her father, Rafael Brache, was appointed as the [3]