Will Philly’s New Black Panthers Derail Obama’s Likely Labor Secretary Nominee?

Remember the New Black Panthers? Two of them showed up at a Philadelphia polling place during the 2008 election, setting off years of conspiracy-mongering that violent black men had essentially stolen that election for President Obama. Voter-intimidation charges against the duo were eventually dropped, to the criticism and cries of Republicans. And now the case is coming back to haunt Thomas Perez, President Obama’s probable nominee for Labor Secretary.

Perez, you see, was in the Justice Department when it handled the New Black Panther case, and, well, let Politico explain, with a report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz at the center of the shenanigans.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he didn’t think Perez had been “as great” as Schiff suggested.

Wolf read briefly from a POLITICO story which noted that Horowitz’s report found Perez misled the Civil Rights Commission by denying that political appointees played any role in controversial decisions in the New Black Panther Party case. The report found no evidence that Perez knew his testimony was wrong at the time, but the report takes issue with his defense of his denial as accurate.

[Rep. Adam] Schiff suggested Horowitz’s report found that the decisions in the New Black Panthers case, involving alleged intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008, occurred before Perez took control of the civil rights division and that those decisions were made by career personnel, not political appointees.

Horowitz acknowledged Perez wasn’t there during the Panthers case, but he indicated that political appointees did set “parameters” for the career staff making those decisions. The report also indicates that a political appointee ruled out one option under consideration.

Perez may yet become Labor Secretary—and Wolf has made a career out of keeping the Panther case alive—but one thing’s clear: A single stupid act by Philly’s New Black Panthers will reverberate in national politics at least until President Obama leaves office. Good job, guys!