Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the leading candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee, has stumbled in recent days when asked about his position on money in politics.
Asked at a DNC forum in Phoenix last Saturday whether he will “revive President Obama’s ban on corporate donations to the DNC” and a ban on appointing lobbyists as party leaders, Perez demurred.
“It’s actually not that simple a question,” Perez responded, adding that such a move might have “unintended consequences.” Perez argued that such a ban might impact “union members who are lobbyists,” though the question explicitly only addressed corporate lobbyists.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Perez has refused to clarify his position on resurrecting President Obama’s ban on lobbyist donations to the DNC, which was overturned by former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., during Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.
The only firm restriction on special-interest money Perez has announced is that he will not accept lobbyist donations for his own campaign committee formed to support his bid for DNC chair. But even this position has come under question.
The Intercept recently obtained a fundraiser invite for Team Tom, Perez’s DNC chair campaign committee, for an event on January 26 in Washington, D.C. The event invite clearly prohibits lobbyist money, but the host committee — the individuals sponsoring the event — included several federally registered lobbyists and individuals working in the lobbying industry:
One of the event’s sponsors, for instance, is Bryan Tackett, a lobbyist with the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, who is registered to lobby on a number of issues, including on issues related to the overtime rules released by the Labor Department under Perez’s leadership.
Reached for comment, Tackett said, “As a private citizen, I support Tom Perez’s bid for DNC chair and I failed to inform his team of my background in lobbying. They have informed me of their policy to not accept lobbyist donations and I respect their decision.”
The Intercept also raised the issue with Perez’s campaign staff. Xochitl Hinojosa, Perez’s spokesperson, said: “There are currently no lobbyists hosting the happy hour or any finance events for Team Tom. If a lobbyists was on a previous invite, we removed them once we were made aware they were a lobbyist.”
We also asked to clarify Perez’s position on lobbyist donations to the DNC, given that he did not make his position clear when speaking recently to the Huffington Post. Hinjosa responded with a link to Perez’s comments that forum in Phoenix last Saturday, despite the fact Perez again did not take a position.