Terence Flynn, a Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board, who leaked documents to Republican confidants according to that agency’s inspector general, resigned on Sunday. Flynn’s resignation becomes effective July 24.
Flynn had only been on the board since January, as a recess appointment of the President, along with two Democrats, giving the board a full complement of five members. In March and May, NLRB IG David Berry issued reports showing that Flynn leaked early drafts of board rulings and internal documents to former NLRB Chairman Peter Schaumber, who happens to be a labor advisory committee aide to presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, along with another former board member, now a counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers. This occurred when Flynn was a staff lawyer for board member Brian Hayes in 2010 and 2011. Flynn repeatedly denied involvement, and his resignation letter makes no mention of the controversy. However, aside from the fact that his lawyer made a statement, the contents of the statement lead in that direction:
After Mr. Berry issued his report, Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Barry Coburn, acknowledged, according to The Associated Press, that Mr. Flynn’s actions did not reflect “perfect judgment in every instance.” But Mr. Coburn said Mr. Flynn’s actions had not been illegal and that there was “not a shred of evidence that they were undertaken for any improper purpose.” [...]
In one instance, Mr. Berry found that Mr. Flynn had secretly helped Mr. Schaumber write an opinion column that denounced an N.L.R.B. decision that favored labor unions. Mr. Berry called that action by Mr. Flynn “an abuse of his discretion.”
Flynn is under Justice Department investigation, as well as investigation by the Office of Special Counsel for violations of the Hatch Act. The ranking Democrats on the committee of jurisdiction for the NLRB had already called on him to resign, along with labor leaders like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
The NLRB will have a 3-1 partisan split once Flynn leaves; he has already recused himself from board business. The NLRB has suffered setbacks in recent weeks in federal court, because of rulings from when they only had three confirmed members where the lone Republican did not participate, denying a quorum in the eyes of a federal judge. But with three Democrats in place, that will not be a problem for future rulings (and government lawyers are contesting that the lack of a vote, despite participation on the board, constitutes a lack of quorum).
This is a decent reminder of the Bush years, and how federal appointees at that time saw their role as aiding the conservative movement rather than performing their job adequately.