Obama labor chief: Trump team's agency inquiries 'illegal'

Obama labor chief: Trump team's agency inquiries 'illegal'
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Labor Secretary Tom Perez says President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE's transition team's inquiries into government agencies are against the law.

“Those questions have no place in a transition. That is illegal,” Perez, who is running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), told CBS Radio News in an exclusive interview Friday.

“Will dedicated career people be targeted because they were doing the right work?”

Earlier this month, Trump’s team asked the Energy Department for a list of employees who have been involved in climate change issues in President Obama’s administration, but the agency rejected the request. 

The Trump transition team later told The Washington Post the letter was "not authorized," adding that the person behind it had been "properly counseled."

Last week, the transition team requested full reports from the State Department about “gender-related staffing, programming and funding.” The Washington Post reported that an agency official is worried the probe will lead to a “witch hunt.”

Perez said he doesn’t know of any similar requests made to his agency.

Nearly a dozen Democratic senators have called for an investigation into the Trump transition letter to the Energy Department. They told the independent Office of Special Counsel the letter appears to “have violated long-standing federal laws designed to protect civil servants against coercion for partisan purposes.”

Perez is running for DNC chairman as Democrats seek to rebuild from devastating losses in the November election.

He faces a tough challenge from Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who entered the race early and has scored a number of high-profile endorsements. Other candidates include South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley and Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown.

Trump has nominated Andy Puzder, CEO of a fast-food restaurant chain, to be the next secretary of Labor.