Does DNC Chair Tom Perez really have time for a side gig at Brown?

Of course, the DNC being practiced in defensive posture, denies that Chair Tom Perez’ decision to teach at his alma mater Brown University constitutes a second job, pointing out it’s just “7 lectures” over “4 months.” That’s what DNC says. Brown says it’s a year appointment that also includes lunches and office hours, with other public events to be scheduled.

Keith Ellison and Tom Perez working together

Ah, remember just 7 months ago after Hillary Clinton’s disastrous defeat? Rep. Keith Ellison, early Bernie guy and clear frontrunner for DNC chair, got knocked back by Howard Dean and other players who said you can’t have two jobs and be DNC Chair. Ellison even pledged to give up his House seat if he won. But of course, Ellison didn’t win, Perez did. Perez, who didn’t even want the job till he was recruited by Obama and the establishment wing. They’d just blown a ‘sure thing’ election, but they were scared af of Bernie Sanders’ ilk gaining party power.

[Aside from BS of a party in deep defensive crouch, there’s a case to be made for a F/T chair. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was P/T and she was a disaster. Plus, DNC’s Charter requires one. Not that DNC always honors their Charter. Becausetheydon’t.]

Inserting an ‘establishment’ candidate into an all-but-decided chair race for a party badly needing needed reform and distance from Camp Hillary, wasn’t a good move. New Jersey’s DNC members split – all the women voting Ellison (except for the one NJDSC put in when they dumped Bernie-backers Wisniewski and Erdos); the men, including George Norcross, voting Perez.

But before today, my opinion was that Perez deserves at least a year to redefine DNC. So far, mixed bag. Some promising – like Unity Commission, some like Unity Tour not so much, and some, like the DNC fraud lawsuit, just gross. Hell, I thought Perez should get his shot even after he admitted the party rigged the primary against Bernie (he took that back, swearing Hillary won “fair and square”). And even after I met both of them and Ellison (who Perez named his ceremonial Deputy) knew what was on Blue Jersey’s front page (because he’d just read it), while Perez delivered a hot-blooded (but boilerplate) speech. I won’t hold back my fire on what the DNC’s done, because they’ve disgraced themselves. But IMO the Democratic Party is the only viable vehicle to get us out of this mess, so I’ve got nothing but love for people’s best efforts.

But, no. Taking a side-gig – and sorry, that’s what this is – is not OK when midterms are looming, when things are this bad, when #DemExit people are still peeling away (not without cause, let’s face it). Year-long lecture series in residence aren’t minor time commitments. And I call bullshit on DNC’s campaign to keep Ellison out of power because DNC is a full-time job.




Comments (6)

  1. ken bank

    I suppose you never knew anybody who worked full-time at one job and taught (or lectured) part-time at a school or college. I recall when Jimmy Carter was POTUS (a full-time job) he still taught Sunday School every week.

    Maybe he should just eliminate the three-martini lunches. Anyway, I don’t think the DNC will fall apart if Perez delivers a few lectures at his alma mater. Besides, if DWS had resigned from Congress to work full-time at the DNC, do you really think it would have made any difference?

  2. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Well, that’s fairly presumptuous, Ken. As it happens, I know quite a number of people that describes. My father was a college professor. And I know quite a bit about how lecture series like that are put together. They’re high-stakes for the college, and not just a matter of dropping in to give a talk. That’s one of the reasons I included the Bernstein link, and the prep that went into his 6 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard.

    All your points are based on your assumption that it’s me who says people can’t do something else while holding a F/T job – Jimmy Carter, Tom Perez, DWS etc. I’m not the one who said it; the folks who said that were the folks running Tom Perez’ chair campaign.

    The issue isn’t whether Tom Perez can teach at Brown. The issue is: (1) DNC players used the fact that Keith Ellison is a member of Congress to suggest that he couldn’t do the job, and Perez could because it would be his only job (2) DNC is downplaying the time commitment (only “7 lectures” and “4 months”) while Brown’s press release suggests a considerably longer engagement, office hours, luncheons and additional events.

    You either skipped over that hypocrisy, or I didn’t point to it effectively. But it’s there.

    1. ken bank

      I wasn’t being presumptuous, just sarcastic.
      Aside from that you’re comparing apples to oranges since your entire premise is based on establishing a false equivalency between a full-time congressman and a part-time lecturer. I agree DNC Chair is a full-time job. So is being a Congressman. If Tom Perez was serving in Congress or some other full-time (40 hours a week) capacity your criticism would be valid.

      You said, “Taking a side-gig – and sorry, that’s what this is – is not OK when midterms are looming”. So hypocrisy is not the issue here. If he spent the same number of hours per week coaching little league or tutoring disadvantaged students you would have a problem with that also.

      I think we can both agree he should skip the lunches, though I see no harm in his attending a few football games, pep rallies, and especially homecoming week-end at his alma mater. Like I said in my previous comment, I don’t think the DNC will fall apart, and if Tom MacArthur, Leonard Lance and Rodney Frelinghuysen are all re-elected I don’t think it will happen because Tom Perez had a “side gig” at Brown University.

  3. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Again, you’re missing the point. It’s not whether you or I think this or that part-time job is too time consuming. It’s that the people working overtime to keep somebody else out of power said that no other job – not just a job you consider time-consuming – was acceptable.

    And come now, coaching Little League or tutoring students is not a professional obligation. And the obligations of a senior fellow at Brown aren’t about going to football games and pep rallies. They’re about office hours, and lectures, events not yet named that will revolve around him, and lunches that aren’t about sandwiches he can skip, because they’re lunches he’ll be hosting.

    1. ken bank

      “Though participants will not receive course credit, there will be suggested readings, and Perez will hold informal lunches and office hours. Several public events are also scheduled.”

      Oh my, I wonder how many races Dems will lose next year because of this.

      I think most unbiased, objective persons would assume that “no other job” referred to political office or some other full-time position. If I am wrong, please provide me with a quote from Perez supporters that says even a part-time “side-gig” is unacceptable. At best it is a very ambiguous statement.

      Hypocrisy isn’t the issue. Again, I’ll repeat what you said above,” Taking a side-gig – and sorry, that’s what this is – is not OK when midterms are looming,”.

      “Professional obligation” or not, I know from personal experience that coaching little league is a lot more time consuming and stressful than giving a few lectures, informal lunches, office hours and public events. Even if Perez skips a few “informal lunches and office hours”, he won’t get nearly as much grief as a little league coach not showing up for practices and missing games.

  4. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    We may have very different perceptions of the shape the Democratic Party, and specifically DNC, is in. And the role and responsibilities the Chair has – both for the work, and also the perception voters have of the party.

    The most successful era of DNC in memory was under Howard Dean, who made sweeping changes in DNC’s priorities, how it did business and how it spent money. 100% it was leadership. Argue if you need to about whether 50-State-Strategy and other changes were good (numbers say they were very good), but the point being made here is that there was direction, leadership, and a job taken very seriously. And Dean was handed a DNC in much better shape than Perez was.

    One can easily make the argument that given how disgraced the DNC is, by its own conduct, the stakes are and should be higher for everything Perez does. Particularly since Perez himself had a limited role in the questionable conduct that WikiLeaks revealed.

    We lost the 2 immediate past DNC chairs in scandal; one of them literally on the day the convention began. That may feel more real to me than to you; I was in the room – Wells Fargo Center – when that happened and it was like a bomb dropping. DWS as a corrupt leader was no surprise, but Donna Brazile’s conduct was a surprise, as was her lying for months about it before finally confessing. DNC at its highest levels was strategizing with and for one candidate against another, in full violation of its Charter, with – separately – 32 state parties funneling money. The infrastructure party was so deep into, so invested in, Hillary (long before primary) that it owns her for both good and bad. And after all that, she lost to a buffoon, which further damages DNC.

    Approval rating for the Democratic Party is still underwater and only 37% of people think the party stands for something (link). That’s a big problem on top of other problems the party has (some, self-inflicted). Perez is the most visible rep of the infrastructural party. That leaves him with both the actual problem of divided interest and another pull on his professional time, an optics problem of not looking like he’s on the job, and a hypocrisy problem, given how he was elected.

    Don’t know why you can’t imagine one decision can create multiple issues. Because it does.


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