Watchdog claims more evidence of leaks by labor board member

The inspector general for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claims to have uncovered more evidence that a Republican member leaked confidential information.

Terence Flynn, a GOP member of the NLRB who was recess-appointed by President Obama in January, is accused of making additional disclosures of non-public information to Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB member. 

The supplemental inspector general (IG) report, dated April 30, alleges that Flynn released confidential information while serving as an agency chief counsel. The information that Flynn leaked, according to the IG, included four dissents and a draft of an NLRB decision. 

Flynn also helped edit Schaumber’s op-eds on NLRB issues and forwarded him a January 2011 email from then-NLRB Chairwoman Wilma Liebman outlining her priorities for the agency that year, according to the report. 

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The 13-page report by Dave Berry, the NLRB’s inspector general, says Flynn broke ethics rules by leaking the information. He recommended that the labor board review the findings and decide on an appropriate course of action.

“We conclude that the issues identified in this report, and those of the prior report, evidence a serious threat to the Board’s decisional due process. We recommend that the Board review these facts to determine appropriate action,” the report says.

The new accusations follow another IG report on Flynn that was released in March. The IG said it investigated Flynn again because of public statements he made after the first report was released.  

“Mr. Flynn’s public statement that he has engaged in no wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of the Board and all but eviscerates the due process procedures that the Board has established,” the report says. 

Barry Coburn, Flynn’s attorney, objected to the second report and questioned the integrity of the process. 

“We strenuously object to the ‘renewed’ investigation of Mr. Flynn and to the purported findings set forth in the supplemental report. Indeed, the entire course and conduct of this investigation, much of which is unprecedented, raises serious questions as to its objectivity, impartiality, independence, and intended purpose,” Coburn wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to the NLRB IG. 

“No allegation raised by your office relates to his actions as a Board Member. Nonetheless, he has been subjected to a series of investigations and dubious referrals apparently intended to distract, intimidate, and to deter him from fulfilling his responsibilities as a Board Member, and ultimately to pressure him to resign.”

The chairman of the NLRB said the agency takes the two IG reports “very seriously.”

“They raise questions of ethics and trust that go to the heart of the values shared by all of us at the NLRB. Those concerns are paramount in our minds as we consider the necessary response,” NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce said in a statement. 

In reaction to the new IG report, Flynn has been called on to resign from the NLRB. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sent a letter to Flynn on Wednesday urging him to step down.

“You are now the subject of two reports this year in which the Inspector General has found ethical breaches in your conduct. The findings have been referred for potential criminal violations as well. … Your colleagues at the Board and parties practicing before the Board must have confidence in your ability to protect internal deliberations from improper disclosure,” Miller wrote.

“I believe your prompt resignation will allow the Board to function properly while law enforcement and others determine the ultimate disposition of these matters.” 

Schaumber didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Schaumber had served as campaign adviser to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Last week, a Romney campaign aide said Schaumber left the campaign in December 2011. 

Last week, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said that Flynn’s leaks may have violated the Hatch Act — a law that limits government employees’ political activity — and that the agency’s inspector general has referred the matter to the Office of Special Counsel.