Sen. Harkin launches probe of NLRB ethics accusations


“Mr. Flynn’s disclosure of confidential information relating to cases pending before the board while serving as chief counsel to a Republican board member not only undermines the impartiality of the board’s adjudication process, but also raises the alarming possibility that the recent political attacks on the board could have been aided and abetted by his unethical activity,” Harkin said in a statement.

In his letter to Flynn, Harkin asks for copies of emails, letters and any other documents from 2007 to now that show communication between Flynn and former NLRB members Pete Kirsanow, Peter Schaumber and other ex-labor board employees and lawyers outside the agency regarding NLRB deliberations. The senator also asks for copies of any documents that show communication between Flynn and congressional staff regarding the board’s internal workings. 

Harkin asks Flynn several pointed questions in the letter, including whether he agrees that disclosing legal advice from a government lawyer to agency officials violates ethics rules and attorney-client privilege.

Flynn's attorney, Barry Coburn of Coburn & Greenbaum, said he received Harkin’s letter on Monday afternoon.

“I’m reviewing it and we are considering on how to best to respond,” Coburn said, while also pointing to the NLRB member's response to the IG's report.

“We think it offers a comprehensive response to the IG's report and we certainly believe that Terry Flynn has committed no wrongdoing,” Coburn said.

The five-page letter, dated March 20, from Coburn to NLRB IG Dave Berry “strenuously object[ed]” to the report for several reasons, such as the IG including information that supported the IG’s conclusions while omitting information that refuted them. Further, “the conduct at issue here is innocuous” and Flynn “disclosed nothing of any substance constituting agency ‘deliberative information,’ ” according to the letter. 

Coburn said he has had no contact with the Justice Department in regard to the IG's report. 

The IG’s report has led to calls for more investigation and for Flynn, who was recess-appointed to the NLRB by President Obama in January, to step down. 

Last week, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has said the panel should request documents from Kirsanow and Schaumber and interview them as well.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said last week that Flynn should resign from the labor board and that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should remove Schaumber from an advisory post on his campaign.