Politics continues to pervade the NLRB. Before Republican Terence Flynn began serving his recess appointment to the NLRB in February, he was chief counsel to previous Republican Board members Peter Schaumber and Peter Kirsanow, and attorney for Republican Member Brian Hayes. Bloomberg BNA (3/26/12 and 4/3/12) reports that after Flynn was sworn in as a Board Member on January 9, NLRB Inspector General David Berry filed a report directly with two Congressional oversight committees concluding that Flynn made improper disclosures to former Board Members Schaumber and Kirsanow. According to the report, Flynn asked an NLRB librarian to conduct legal research and then reported the results to Kirsanow shortly before Kirsanow filed a lawsuit for the National Association of Manufacturers challenging the Board's new posting rule. The report also claims that Flynn gave Schaumber, who is co-chair of labor policy advisory group Mitt Romney for President, case lists and data on pending cases that the Inspector General called "the most confidential of Agency information."
Flynn's attorney has denied that Flynn engaged in wrongdoing. According to the attorney, "Mr. Flynn disclosed nothing of any substance constituting agency 'deliberative information.'" Apparently, Flynn did forward an email "that reprinted an earlier email from someone else," but "that was a non-substantive error and inadvertent oversight on Mr. Flynn's part."
The reaction of the Democrats and unions was predictable. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, forwarded the report to Attorney General Eric Holder with a request for an investigation. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has asked Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to investigate the report on Flynn. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has requested that Flynn provide the committees with records of his communications with former NLRB officials and lawyers outside the agency. AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka called the Inspector General's findings "a test for candidate Romney" and said that "allowing Schaumber to remain as an advisor will speak volumes about candidate Romney and the value he places on ethics in government officials." Flynn has called the allegations a "manufactured controversy [that] is emblematic of the mean-spirited political theatrics that currently paralyze Washington."