National Labor Relations Board Inspector General David Berry released a report [PDF] late last week alleging that recently appointed board member Terence Flynn provided confidential information to two former NLRB members. Following an investigation, Berry claimed that while Flynn served as a chief counsel to board member Brian Hayes, he leaked information to Peter Kirsanow and Peter Schaumber—both of whom were in private practice at the time—to be used for their private benefit. Berry claimed Flynn’s actions violated Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch; he also snubbed Berry for allegedly demonstrating a lack of candor during the investigation. According to the report, most of the alleged actions took place in 2011. The information allegedly included “lead case lists, pre-decisional votes and positions of the members, the identity of counsel assigned to a case, the status of cases, the research issues in cases, the deliberation of the former Chairman in [a case], the desire of two members to press forward in [a case], and the analysis of the Board’s resolution on” pending rulemaking. Rep. George Miller (D-California), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a press release that “the report raises questions regarding the actions of the outside parties, including the extent to which any inside information was used for their or their clients’ private benefit.” According to The Hill, the AFL-CIO has called for Flynn’s resignation. The Washington Post reported that the labor group has also called for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to dismiss Schaumber, who currently serves as a labor adviser to his campaign. President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to name Flynn, a Republican, and two Democrats to the NLRB in January. All of the appointments have since faced legal challenges. Former NLRB chairman and current Stanford Law School professor William Gould IV is unaware of any instance in which an NLRB member was accused of similar conduct. “The main infraction lies in the revolving door that has existed in so many administrative agencies in the last decade,” he says. Gould is concerned about what he sees as an exceedingly “tight relationship between the regulators and the regulated.” He hopes that President Obama will not go forward with Flynn’s nomination in light of the IG’s report. Gould says that one of the problems with the appointment of board members is that it has become standard for the president to rubber-stamp appointments from outside his own party. In a statement issued by NLRB spokesperson Nancy Cleeland, Flynn said:
I intend to fulfill my responsibilities as a Board member and continue to work diligently and collaboratively with my valued colleagues in carrying out the Agency’s mission. As to the Inspector General’s report, I voluntarily cooperated fully with the investigation and provided a detailed response that for unknown reasons was not included or referenced in the summary apparently posted on the website of a Democratic Member of Congress. I am troubled by the politicization of this internal matter, in which I have committed no wrongdoing, and feel that this manufactured controversy is emblematic of the mean-spirited political theatrics that currently paralyze Washington and deter individuals from public service.