It’s been one month since National Labor Relations Board member Terence Flynn, a Republican, came under fire for leaking sensitive NLRB information to a Romney campaign labor adviser, and an NLRB Inspector General report released yesterday is only intensifying the criticism.
Flynn was initially accused of providing sensitive information such as pre-decisional votes, the identities of counsel assigned to cases and analysis of some NLRB cases to Peter Schaumber, Mitt Romney’s labor policy co-chair at the time, to be used in political attacks against the board. (Mike Elk has a good rundown of those allegations at In These Times).
The IG report released yesterday contained even more damning information—searches of Flynn’s e-mail accounts revealed he leaked quite a bit of information about cases that were still being considered by the board, including “a draft of a board majority decision and four dissents that had not yet been issued, as well as other deliberative non-public information involving the processing of cases and issues by the Board.”
Leaking deliberative information to political opponents of the NLRB before any decisions are made is serious business—and the report also stated that Flynn repeatedly misled the IG’s office about what he did and defended some leaks as proper.
This led to immediate condemnations and calls for resignation from Democratic leaders. Senator Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said in a statement:
I am deeply disturbed by the findings of today's Inspector General Report and believe that Mr. Flynn should resign immediately. For Mr. Flynn to continue to maintain that he has done nothing wrong in the face of the overwhelming evidence of serious misconduct suggests that he lacks both the professional judgment and ethical integrity to continue serving on the Board.
Representative George Miller put out a statement directed at Flynn, also calling on him to step down:
Disclosing judges’ deliberations in pending cases to outside parties, for example, is repugnant to the American justice system. Such behavior cannot be allowed to continue. The Board is the only agency where workers and employers may go to have their rights under the National Labor Relations Act vindicated. The public’s faith in this agency and its fair administration of the law matters. Your continued presence at the Board rattles that faith and potentially infringes upon the due process rights of those with business before the Board. For the sake of the Board as an institution, you should resign.
Schaumber resigned from the Romney campaign late last year, at around the same time Flynn learned he was being investigated for the leaks. If Flynn doesn’t resign, it does seem that NLRB bylaws would allow President Obama to remove him. They state: “Any member of the Board may be removed by the President, upon notice and hearing, for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office, but for no other cause.”