|For Immediate Release
May 7, 2013
Contact: Kathryn Rexrode or Jessica Collins, (202) 225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs
Joint Hearing on “DOJ’s Quid Pro Quo with St. Paul: A Whistleblower’s Perspective”
Chairman Goodlatte: We are here today to examine a secret deal struck by a senior Justice Department official, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. This secret deal was brokered by Mr. Perez with the City of St. Paul in order to prevent a case from being decided by the Supreme Court. In this exchange, Mr. Perez pressured officials at both the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to overrule career attorneys and abandon two pending False Claims Act cases against St. Paul. This quid pro quo potentially cost American taxpayers over $200 million dollars.
The Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees have been conducting an investigation into this matter for over six months and last month released a report, detailing this backroom deal.
The report found among other things:
That Assistant Attorney General Perez was personally and directly involved in negotiating the mechanics of the quid pro quo and he personally agreed to the quid pro quo on behalf of the United States during a closed-door meeting with the Mayor in St. Paul;
That Despite the Department of Justice’s contention that the intervention recommendation in Newell was a “close call” and “marginal,” contemporaneous documents show the Department believed that Newell alleged a “particularly egregious example of false certifications” and therefore the United States sacrificed strong allegations of false claims worth as much as $200 million to the Treasury;
That Mr. Perez attempted to cover up the quid pro quo when he personally instructed career attorneys to omit a discussion of the Supreme Court case in the declination memos that outlined the reasons for the Department’s decision to decline intervention in Newell and Ellis;
That Mr. Perez attempted to cover up the quid pro quo when he insisted that the final deal with the City settling two cases worth potentially millions of dollars to the Treasury not be reduced to writing, instead insisting that your “word was your bond”; and that
That Mr. Perez made multiple statements to the Committees that contradicted testimony from other witnesses and documentary evidence.
I am disturbed by the lack of transparency and mismanagement of government resources and personnel described in this report. Moreover, I am troubled to learn that Mr. Perez used his personal email account to conduct the Department’s official business, in violation of government record-keeping rules. Transparency is essential to good government.
This secret deal was not victimless — our whistleblower witness and the section 3 community he represents suffered; the American taxpayers lost the potential to recover hundreds of millions of dollars; and the rule of law upon which this nation was founded was manipulated and outright ignored.