Bloomberg News

NLRB’s Flynn Urged to Quit After Fresh Ethics Allegations

May 02, 2012

Republican National Labor Relations Board member Terence Flynn should resign after the inspector general found fresh ethics breaches he said are a serious threat to the agency, Democratic Representative George Miller said.

Flynn distributed non-public information, including an early draft of a board decision, to a former member of the agency for personal gain, according to a report from the agency watchdog released today by Miller.

“The inspector general’s findings leave me without confidence in your ability to successfully execute the duties for which you have been appointed,” Miller of California, senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, wrote in a letter to Flynn.

The watchdog’s allegations today and in a March 19 report add to criticism of the board, which mediates disputes between labor and employers. President Barack Obama in January appointed Flynn, a Republican, and two Democrats when the Senate wasn’t in session, bypassing confirmation and triggering legal challenges from Republicans.

Flynn, while chief counsel to a Republican member, improperly gave a draft of an unpublished board decision and dissents in three cases to Peter Schaumber, his NLRB boss until August 2010 and now a labor adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to Inspector General David P. Berry.

‘Deliberative Information’

“Nothing in Mr. Flynn’s performance standards authorize the release of deliberative information,” Berry said in a memorandum. Issues identified in the two reports “evidence a serious threat to the board’s” decision making, Berry said.

Flynn’s actions weren’t illegal and didn’t have any effect on board decisions, said Barry Coburn, a lawyer for Flynn. There are no statutes that bar sharing information with a former NLRB member, he wrote.

“There is no shred of evidence indicating that any attempt was made to improperly influence any board decision,” he wrote in a letter to Berry. “Rather, the evidence shows that Mr. Flynn was simply discussing issues of mutual interest with a former close colleague.”

Flynn said he had done nothing improper and rejected an earlier call from the AFL-CIO labor federation to resign.

Political Campaign Laws

A report on Flynn’s actions was sent on April 3 to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates violations of laws barring government workers from using their jobs for political activities. Berry cited communications to Flynn after Schaumber became co-chair of Romney’s labor policy group.

Information also was shared with Peter Kirsanow, a former NLRB member working for the National Association of Manufacturers, Berry said.

Flynn “knew, or should have known, that he had a duty to maintain the confidence of the information that he received in the performance of his official duties,” Berry said in a March 19 memorandum. He “lacked candor” during an interview March 15, Berry said in the March report.

The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, has urged Flynn to quit.

NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce, a Democrat, said he takes the allegations seriously and is considering a response.

“They raise questions of ethics and trust that go to the heart of the values shared by all of us at the NLRB,” Pearce said today vin an e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: William McQuuillen in Washington at bmcquillen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at


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