Former DNC Chair Tom Perez Now Works for Anti-Labor Law Firm

After a four year tenure as chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez has taken a job as partner at Washington D.C. law and lobbying firm Venable LLP.

“When assisting clients with legal, legislative, and regulatory matters across a broad range of subject matter areas, Tom Perez brings to bear decades of experience leading government organizations at the federal, state, and local levels,” Venable’s website says.

Venable advertises services defending employers against labor unions, including collective bargaining negotiations, refuting unfair labor practices allegations, and offering advice during union organizing campaigns and petition drives.

“We regularly counsel and train clients on union avoidance,” Venable’s website reads.

Perez took charge of a beleaguered DNC in 2017, after an election cycle where the group was accused by some of its most influential figures of rigging the nominating process against grassroots candidate Bernie Sanders and in favor of establishment favorite Hillary Clinton. But rather than reckoning with how the organization funneled $82 million to the Clinton campaign and patching up relations with the grassroots elements of the party, Perez elevated establishment figures to positions where they could vote down reforms like instituting a conflict of interest policy and banning corporate lobbyists from being superdelegates.

As Sludge has covered extensively, Perez purged key DNC committees of members who had supported Sanders or his chairmanship opponent Keith Ellison, and replaced them with corporate lobbyists and Clinton allies. For example, Perez appointed multiple corporate figures to the DNC Executive Committee in 2017, including state oil and gas lobbyist Tonio Burgos, lobbying firm principal Minyon Moore, and finance industry and casino gaming consultant Susan Swecker.

“His investment in state parties was almost non-existent, his Rural Desk consisted of a single person, and he even managed to screw up the 2020 Iowa caucuses,” said political consultant Matt L. Barron. “All in all, Perez has to be one of the worst DNC chairs ever.”

In addition to its anti-union work, Venable represents dozens of corporations, trade associations, and municipal organizations in their lobbying before the federal government.

Department of Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin employs Venable to lobby on the defense appropriations bill provisions related to its contracts and tax issues involving foreign-derived income. Eagle LNG, a Texas natural gas company with operations throughout the Caribbean, pays Venable to lobby Congress on energy infrastructure issues, marine fuel, and fuel bunkering. Other Venable lobbying clients include American Airlines, hedge fund Citadel LLC, utility trade association Edison Electric Institute, and McAfee LLC.

Perez is not yet a registered lobbyist, but his Venable bio page lists services including “legislative and government affairs,” which can include lobbying visits with officials as well as work like monitoring regulatory proceedings and preparing research and other materials to influence the government.

In August 2020, toward the end of Perez’s stint as DNC chair, the DNC Rules Committee voted down a resolution from a Sanders delegate to amend the DNC charter to ban it from accepting corporate PAC donations and prohibit lobbyists for for-profit corporations from serving as members. Many of the Rules Committee members who led the opposition to the resolution were Perez appointees with background in corporate lobbying, Sludge found.

Perez worked in the Obama administration as assistant attorney general for civil rights and later as the secretary of the Department of Labor. In the 90s, he worked as counsel for Sen. Ted Kennedy and in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Bill Clinton administration. Perez has been replaced as DNC chair by Jaime Harrison, a former lobbyist and floor director and counsel for House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). Harrison worked for Podesta Group as a lobbyist from 2008 through 2016, representing 68 clients including Boeing, Bank of America, BP America, Wells Fargo, and Wal-Mart.