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Inquiry Finds Ethics Violation at the N.L.R.B.

Date: March 24, 2012
Source: Media Article

Source: The New York Times

A Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board improperly revealed information about the agency’s private deliberations to outside parties who had cases pending before the board, an internal government watchdog said Friday.
 
Terence Flynn, a Republican member, improperly shared information, a report says.
The board’s inspector general said the member, Terence F. Flynn, violated ethics rules by sharing confidential details on the status of pending cases and the likely votes of other members before decisions were released. A report from Inspector General David P. Berry also faulted Mr. Flynn for a “lack of candor” during the investigation.

President Obama appointed Mr. Flynn and two others to the board in January. The report said Mr. Flynn committed the violations when he was still a staff lawyer at the agency, before he was elevated to one of its five members.

The N.L.R.B. oversees union elections and enforces rules on unfair labor practices. Its five board members — three Democrats and two Republicans — function much like judges on an appeals court, hearing cases and issuing legal decisions.

The 13-page report does not suggest what, if any, penalty Mr. Flynn might face. But the matter has been referred to the Justice Department for further investigation, said Brian Newell, spokesman for Representative John Kline of Minnesota, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Representative George Miller of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, also called on the Justice Department to investigate.

“Such actions threaten the integrity of the board’s most vital operations,” Mr. Miller said.

A board spokeswoman, Nancy Cleeland, said Mr. Flynn had no comment on the report.

The report said Mr. Flynn committed most of the violations in 2011, while serving as chief counsel to the board’s other Republican member, Brian Hayes. It said much of the information that Mr. Flynn passed on was shared with two former Republican board members who now work as lawyers in private practice and represent clients before the board.

Mr. Flynn told lawyers representing clients before the board about predecisional votes, the early positions of other members, the status of cases and the analysis of a pending rule-making that was planned to streamline union elections, the report said.

In one instance, the report said, Mr. Flynn even helped an outside lawyer conduct research on how to attack a board rule that required businesses to put up posters explaining union rights.

“Given Mr. Flynn’s position as chief counsel and his years of service, he 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,” the report said.

Printed from the official United Master Executive Council website at www.unitedafa.org.

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