Tom Perez, the former Obama Labor Secretary and Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, announced Thursday that he was taking a job at Venable LLP, a management side law firm and lobby shop that boasts of its experience helping corporations bust unions and evade labor violations.
That same day, Perez met with western Maryland Democrats and progressive activists over Zoom to talk about a potential run for governor, according to attendees. A source on the Zoom call told The Daily Poster that Perez did not mention his new job at Venable.
A political operative working with Perez did not respond to a request for comment.
Perez served as Labor Secretary from 2013 to 2017, when he was elected DNC chair. He left the party leadership position in January after President Joe Biden selected ex-lobbyist and former South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison to replace him.
In March, Perez formed a 527 organization, called Every Zip Code Counts, to serve as an exploratory committee as he mulls a Democratic gubernatorial bid to succeed Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Every Zip Code Counts’ treasurer is former DNC finance director Clayton Cox, who recently joined the lobbying firm McGuireWoods Consulting as a vice president of its federal public affairs team.
Perez’s new role at Venable will be part-time, according to Maryland Matters. He will reportedly make his 2022 decision by July 4.
Adam Umak, a teacher and union member who previously led the Western Maryland chapter of Our Revolution, said that progressives should not consider supporting Perez given his new job and his performance as DNC chair.
“Tom Perez wants to bust unions and he also wants to be the governor of Maryland,” Umak said. “He can’t do both.”
Venable has a less than stellar reputation among the very labor organizers and activists Perez would need to succeed in a gubernatorial run.
Former longtime D.C. labor leader Jackie Jeter said in 2016: “Venable is well known as an anti-union law firm with a history of going around the country instructing companies on tactics to weaken and break unions.”
As The Daily Poster noted last week, Venable’s website boasts that its lawyers “regularly counsel and train clients on union avoidance, employee terminations, arbitration, and contract administration and interpretation.”
It is not yet clear what Perez will be doing for Venable — we tried asking his team — but the firm’s website suggests he will be aiding their government affairs team on some of the same issues he worked on at the Labor Department.
Perez’s firm bio says that he will be “assisting clients with legal, legislative, and regulatory matters across a broad range of subject matter areas.” His related practices will include internal investigations, legislative and government affairs, and labor and employment, according to the website.
“Venable’s attorneys are at the forefront of helping clients navigate dynamic regulatory, policy, and labor and employment issues,” Perez said in the press release announcing his hiring. “I look forward to joining them in this important work.”
Photo credit: AP/Tannen Maury