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NLRB’s Flynn Won’t Quit, Says ‘No Wrongdoing’ on Ethics

Terence Flynn, National Labor Relations Board member
“I intend to fulfill my responsibilities as a board member,” Terence Flynn said in a statement released by the agency. “I am troubled by the politicization of this internal matter, in which I have committed no wrongdoing.” Source: NLRB

Republican National Labor Relations Board member Terence Flynn rejected a call to quit, saying he did nothing wrong after an agency investigator found he broke ethics rules by sharing nonpublic information.

Flynn, while an agency lawyer, passed memorandums on board deliberations last year to Republican Peter Schaumber, his boss until August 2010 and now a labor adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to the agency’s Inspector General. Flynn also shared information with Peter Kirsanow, another former member working for the National Association of Manufacturers. The AFL-CIO union group urged Flynn to quit, citing the breaches that occurred before President Barack Obama appointed Flynn in January during a congressional recess.

“I intend to fulfill my responsibilities as a board member,” Flynn said in a statement released by the agency. “I am troubled by the politicization of this internal matter, in which I have committed no wrongdoing.”

Republicans and groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have criticized Obama’s labor board for actions they said favor labor unions at the expense of businesses. Obama surprised opponents on Jan. 4 when he bypassed Senate confirmation and appointed Flynn and two others.

Flynn “knew, or should have known, that he had a duty to maintain the confidence of the information that he received in the performance of his official duties,” David Berry, the board’s inspector general, said in a March 19 memorandum covering actions prior to the appointment. He “lacked candor” during an interview March 15, Berry said.

‘Undermine, Discredit’

In sharing the information, Flynn helped two former board members “who have been actively engaged in a relentless campaign to undermine and discredit the NLRB,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, said today in a statement. “Even for an agency that has at times been highly politicized, these unethical practices are unprecedented and indefensible. Flynn should resign immediately.”

Trumka called on Romney, who named Schaumber as a labor adviser last year, to dismiss the aide, saying keeping the former NLRB member involved will show “the value he places on ethics” in government.

Flynn violated the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, according to the report.

Representative George Miller of California, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder on March 23 asking the Justice Department to investigate Flynn and how Schaumber and Kirsanow used the information to benefit their clients.

‘Private Gain’

“The Inspector General’s findings about the conversions of sensitive government information for private gain should not go without further scrutiny,” Miller wrote to Holder. “Such actions threaten the integrity of the board’s most vital operations.”

Miller, who released the watchdog’s report, stopped short of asking Flynn to resign.

Flynn said he gave a detailed response to Berry’s office “that for unknown reasons was not included or referenced in the summary apparently posted” on a lawmaker’s website.

Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said she couldn’t comment on whether an investigation is underway.

Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who heads the House Education and Workforce Committee, said the report “makes serious allegations” and was “appropriately referred to the Department of Justice, the federal authority ultimately responsible for determining whether legal action is necessary.”

The allegations highlight the need for a full Senate hearing on nominees, he said.

Flynn’s nomination is pending in the Senate.

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