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Tom Perez, the labor secretary who is bidding to head the Democratic National Committee, received a crucial boost in 2013 when he was seeking Senate confirmation to be in President Obama’s Cabinet after the Maryland Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter endorsing him.

Perez was a controversial choice to be labor secretary. The letter, which was widely cited by Perez’s defenders to refute criticism against him, was part of a secret arrangement between Maryland Chamber President Kathleen Snyder and a close Perez ally, Scott R. Jensen. Jensen was assistant secretary at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the agency that monitors state businesses and labor issues.

Jensen, who was also coordinating a Senate lobbying campaign on Perez’s behalf, actually wrote the Chamber’s endorsement. Snyder attached her name to it without making any substantial changes, emails show.

Jensen conceded to the Washington Examiner in a 2013 interview that he wrote the letter but claimed that the endorsement itself was Snyder’s idea. “I drafted it, yes. Kathy Snyder asked me to do that. She reviewed it and made superficial changes,” he said.

Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group, obtained the emails through a Maryland public records request. They were provided to the Examiner, which first reported on them in 2013.

The emails show that Perez knew Jensen had arranged for the Chamber to endorse him. It is not clear if Perez also knew that Jensen actually wrote the letter of endorsement, but the emails do show that both saw getting the Maryland Chamber’s support as a big boost to Perez’s Cabinet nomination.

“Fyi, Tom, Kathy came through. More than any other this was tough on her. If you can here’s her cell (number),” Jensen wrote Perez on March 19, 2013.

“You are a star! Thx so much. I had written this off. I will absolutely call her,” Perez responded.

The Chamber’s letter was highlighted numerous times by Perez’s supporters such as Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., during his confirmation hearings. They pointed to it to refute Republican claims that Perez was a radical liberal.

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“The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is a typical Chamber of Commerce. They are absolutely 100 percent Chamber of Commerce. And they said this, ‘Mr. Perez has proved himself to be a pragmatic public official who was willing to bring different voices together… We found him to be fair and collaborative. We, the Chamber, believe that our experience with him in Maryland would bode well for the nation,'” Mikulski said at an April 2013 Senate hearing.

At the time he was nominated by Obama to be labor secretary, Perez was an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. Perez had previously headed the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Jensen had been Perez’s top assistant at DLLR when Perez headed the state agency.

After Perez left, Jensen became an assistant secretary. In 2013 he used his official state email account to discuss with Snyder that the Chamber officially back Perez as labor secretary. A March 15, 2013, email included a five-paragraph draft endorsement letter. It said, in part: “Mr. Perez has proved himself to be a pragmatic public official who was willing to bring differing voices together. The Chamber had the opportunity to work with Mr. Perez on an array of issues of importance to employers in Maryland, from unemployment and workforce development to the housing and foreclosure crisis.

“Despite differences of opinion, Mr. Perez was always willing to allow all parties to be heard and we found him to be fair and collaborative. I believe that our experiences with him here in Maryland bode well for the nation.”

Snyder agreed to attach her name to Jensen’s draft. She made only two marginal changes to it — one involved correcting Jensen’s misspelling of her name. The other involved adding “Maryland” to one of the references to the Chamber. Otherwise, it was exactly as Jensen suggested.

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“Thank you so much for your help on this. I know Tom appreciates it,” Jensen emailed Snyder on March 15, 2013.

She then sent it to the White House on official Maryland Chamber letterhead and bearing her own signature. The letter even had the same date as Jensen’s draft, March 15, even though Snyder sent it out on March 19.

When asked about the letter by the Examiner in 2013, Snyder claimed that she had written it herself. “I never just take what somebody writes for me. I think I gave my perspective on how we worked with Secretary Perez when he was at DLLR,” she said, adding: “Have you checked word-by-word?”

When told the suggested draft and her version were word-for-word identical, Snyder backtracked and said Jensen must have drafted it based on what she had previously suggested to him. There was no indication of that in the emails between the two individuals.

Jensen conceded that he wrote the letter but said that he didn’t think that he had done anything improper. “No, I don’t think there was anything wrong with that because we believe that the policies that Perez will be pursuing are good for Marylanders.”

Both Jensen and Snyder denied to the Examiner that any quid pro quo was involved in the endorsement.

The emails showed that Jensen was involved in other behind-the-scenes efforts on Perez’s behalf. All had the intention of creating the appearance of a spontaneous groundswell of support for the nominee. Perez was kept aware of these efforts throughout.

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