FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Real Scandal at the NLRB

by JOHN LOGAN

On Tuesday, the Senate voted down a Republican resolution that would have blocked the National Labor Relations Board’s new election rule, the latest in a series of recent GOP efforts to undermine the board. Now, attention has returned to the real scandal at the board — the funneling of confidential information by GOP member Terence Flynn to groups involved in litigation and lobbying against the labor board.  Two days after the Senate vote, it emerged that Flynn’s disclosure of deliberative information to a Romney advisor and others was more extensive and more serious than reported last month by the Inspector General (IG) of the NLRB.

The IG, who is expected to issue within days a supplemental report with further revelations, has requested that the Office of Special Counsel investigate if Flynn violated the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activities of federal employees. And Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has written to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, again asking that he investigate the scandal.

The original accusations against Flynn were extremely serious.

To recap: The IG’s report documents several allegations of potentially illegal conduct.  At the request of Peter Kirsanow, a former Republican NLRB member who represents the National Association of Manufacturers in litigation, Flynn misused board resources to aid a pending lawsuit seeking to block the board’s new election rule.

Flynn had extensive contact with Peter Schaumber, another former GOP member who was then a senior advisor to Mitt Romney. He edited a National Review article by Schaumber attacking the board, and helped Schaumber prepare for Fox News interviews and a congressional hearing on the board. The Romney campaign was noticeably silent when the IG’s report was initially released, but facing the prospect of more damaging revelations, a campaign aide stated Thursday that Schaumber had resigned as an advisor last December, which, if correct, makes the campaign’s earlier silence even more curious.

Moreover, for someone who had extensive exchanges with outside parties, Flynn remembered remarkably little during his investigatory interview with the IG.

Flynn “didn’t recall” sending or forwarding emails to Schaumber and Kirsanow, why he had done so, or know what they would use the information for; nor did he remember reading emails from them; nor that he had edited Schaumber’s writings; nor that he had neglected to disclose that he was requesting information on behalf of Kirsanow; nor did he know that Kirsanow and Schaumber were involved in litigation and lobbying against the board. And when questioned about emails he did not recall sending or forwarding, Flynn did not know that he needed authorization to share this information, or understand that it was confidential, and stated his comments about board deliberations were simply speculation, and not statements of fact.

Flynn had many exchanges with Schaumber, who has been a vocal conservative critic of the board but has declined to comment on the scandal. In one notable exchange, Schaumber requested information from Flynn in order to better advise an employer that wanted “help to avoid unionization.” In other words, a chief counsel of the NLRB – which is charged with protecting workers’ right to form a union – provided information so that a former chair of the NLRB could assist an employer that was attempting to prevent its employees from forming a union.

Denying any wrongdoing, Flynn complains that the scandal is emblematic of the “mean-spirited political theatrics” that dominate DC discourse. But before he disclosed the information, Flynn was warned that even if his comments were restricted to technical information – which clearly they were not – he should not contact former colleagues on sensitive topics so as to avoid the appearance, and the reality, that he was providing interested parties with “inside information that is not available to the general public.”

Mean-spirited political theatrics is an apt description of the GOP’s scandalous hypocrisy on the NLRB. Candidate Romney blasted the “out of control” NLRB for daring to enforce the law, but has said nothing about a real scandal involving one of his own advisors. Representative Issa, who rarely remains silent on a scandal, has hounded the board with subpoenas for the past year, but has refused to investigate these serious accusations. And GOP members of the House Education and Workforce Committee did not even want to release the IG’s report, and then blamed the scandal on President Obama’s recess appointments to the board.

This is the kind of skullduggery that happens when a party no longer believes that workers’ rights matter.

John Logan is Professor and Director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail