NLRB member caught in ethics probe resigns

Terence Flynn, a Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is stepping down, the agency announced on Sunday.

A statement from the NLRB said that Flynn had submitted a resignation letter to President Obama and Mark Pearce, the labor board’s Democratic chairman, on Saturday.

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While Flynn's resignation is effective on July 24, the board member will recuse himself from agency business and asked the president to withdraw his nomination for a new term.

Flynn’s letter of resignation was dated Friday and was delivered via fax and email on Saturday, according to the NLRB.

“After eight years of government service, I have determined that it is time to move on to other opportunities. Accordingly, I respectfully tender my resignation, effective July 24, 2012,” Flynn said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill.

Flynn was the target of two inspector general (IG) reports for allegedly leaking confidential information to former NLRB members and others outside the agency. 

Flynn, however, denied any wrongdoing in response to those reports.

Barry Coburn, Flynn's attorney, declined to comment when asked about the NLRB member's resignation.

The allegations led to calls for his resignation from Democratic lawmakers and many in labor, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who in March urged the Justice Department to launch a probe.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, had also called on Flynn to resign.

Harkin’s panel opened up a probe and requested documents from Flynn in response to the IG’s findings. Miller also urged Justice to investigate while Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been pushing his Republican counterpart, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee chairman, to look into the matter.

Cummings has also said that Flynn’s actions may have violated the Hatch Act — which restricts government employees’ political activity — and that the IG had referred the matter to the Office of Special Counsel.

The labor board said NLRB employees were informed of Flynn's resignation on Sunday. Pearce thanked them on behalf of the board for their “hard work and commitment to excellence through even the most difficult circumstances,” according to the statement.

Earlier this month, after the second IG report was released, Pearce said in a statement that the NLRB took the reports’ findings “very seriously” and that “they raise questions of ethics and trust that go to the heart of the values shared by all of us at the NLRB.”

Flynn first joined the NLRB as an agency chief counsel to former NLRB Member Peter Schaumber and later to current NLRB Member Brian Hayes. Flynn was sworn in as a board member in January after being recess-appointed by President Obama.

Flynn was alleged to have leaked confidential agency information to Schaumber among others. The former NLRB member was a campaign adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but a campaign aide said last month that Schaumber had left the campaign in December 2011.

Some of that secret information, typically passed on in emails to Schaumber and others, included the names of NLRB staff attorneys assigned to cases, the status of cases at the agency and positions that board members were taking on issues before the NLRB.

Flynn also helped edit Schaumber’s op-eds that were often critical of the agency as well as a business plan for Schaumber’s consulting firm, according to the IG.

The IG concluded that Flynn had broken the agency’s ethics code and had violated attorney-client privilege as well by leaking confidential information.

This story was published at 4:18 p.m. and has been updated.

Meghashyam Mali contributed.