Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez has chosen a former colleague and Civil Rights Division alumnus to be Deputy Assistant Attorney General and chief of staff.
Leon Rodriguez will step down from his post as Montgomery County’s attorney and assume his new role at the Justice Department on Jan. 19, he told his staff Monday, according to The Washington Post and the Maryland Gazette.
A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment or confirm Rodriguez’s appointment because there had not been an official announcement.
Perez, a former Montgomery County Council member, was also briefly Rodriguez’s boss when the two worked in the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton administration. Both Rodriguez and Perez were part of the Obama-Biden transition team. Before assuming his current post, Perez was Maryland’s labor secretary.
“The civil rights division suffered quite a lot during the Bush years,” Rodriguez told the Post, citing reports of politicized hiring practices and allegations of declines in enforcement across the board. “The division is going to be given the authority to hire a large number of new lawyers.” Rodriguez was not immediately available for comment to Main Justice on Monday evening.
Rodriguez spoke with Adam Serwer of American Prospect for a September piece on Perez’s drawn-out confirmation process:
“He is at his core, about helping those who are not at the table in our society,” says Leon Rodriguez, county attorney for Montgomery County and a longtime friend of Perez. “He’s been about helping the new immigrant, the physically and mentally challenged, helping minorities, helping them capture their part of the American dream.”
Here’s a bio of Rodriguez from Montgomery County:
Leon Rodriguez served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh as chief of the White Collar Crimes Section, then as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, where he gained four years of white collar criminal experience, with an emphasis on health care fraud. He managed 100 employees, including 39 civil and criminal attorneys, served as the office media spokesperson, and was in charge of recruiting and hiring attorneys.
Rodriguez, who speaks English, French, Spanish, Hebrew and Italian, was a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Justice and served for six years as a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Kings County DA’s Office in Brooklyn, NY.
For the past six years, Rodriguez worked at the District of Columbia firm of Ober, Kaler, Grimes and Shriver, concentrating on white-collar and health law.
“In Leon, we have an appointee for County Attorney with an impressive array of experience who will ably represent the County as the need arises,” said Leggett.
Rodriguez, a resident of Garrett Park, received a B.A. in History from Brown University and earned his law degree from Boston College School of Law. He is widely published and has made numerous appearances as guest lecturer and panelist on legal topics. He is a member of the Montgomery County and American Bar Associations, among other affiliations, and serves on the boards of the DC Hispanic Bar Association Foundation and the Montgomery County Primary Care Coalition.