Mr. Perez has defended his actions in the St. Paul case and at the Justice Department. He said an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court in the St. Paul case would have jeopardized the government’s standing on future housing discrimination cases. The Justice Department described litigation decisions by Mr. Perez as being “in the best interests of the United States.”
Democrats also defended Mr. Perez, saying he and other Justice Department officials acted professionally “to advance the interests of civil rights and effectively combat the scourge of discrimination in housing.” They called the accusations part of a broader political campaign to undermine the legal safeguards against discrimination that Mr. Perez was protecting.
The March report documented what Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz described as deep ideological divisions within the Voting Rights Section, an office within the Civil Rights Division. The report said the division fueled disputes harmful to its operation and often evolved into the harassment of its employees and managers.
The report also outlined concerns by section employees that attorneys could not pursue cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims, and located emails in which current and former voting section attorneys criticized and mocked Christopher Coates, the section chief, for his work in a discrimination case in Mississippi against a black official who used fraud and lawlessness to discriminate against the white minority.
One email sent to four former voting section attorneys after the Mississippi complaint had been filed referred to Mr. Coates as a “klansman.” Another section employee wrote in an email that those who “fought and died” for the Voting Rights Act were “rolling over in their graves with that perversion of the act im sorry, but [White people] are NOT covered for a reason.”
In his report, Mr. Horowitz said investigators found that some career employees in the Voting Rights Section “contributed significantly to the atmosphere of polarization and distrust by harassing other career employees due at least in part to their political ideology or for positions taken on particular cases.” That behavior, the report said, included outward hostility, and snide and mocking emails.
Mr. Holder, as part of his $27.6 billion overall budget, wants $258.6 million for 25 more lawyers to strengthen civil rights enforcement efforts across all areas; 10 more attorneys to expand civil enforcement efforts in financial and mortgage fraud cases; and nine more attorneys to expand civil and criminal enforcement efforts in targeting police misconduct.