By Wilson Abney, an attorney and consultant who has advised federal agencies and Congress on government ethics, including as chief counsel to the Senate Ethics Committee and as an attorney for the U.S. Commerce Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The National Labor Relations Board has jurisdiction over union organizing drives, elections, and labor-management relations in the private sector. NLRB members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. On January 9, 2012, pursuant to a recess appointment by President Obama, Terrence Flynn was sworn in as a Member of the NLRB. On May 25, Mr. Flynn submitted his letter of resignation effective July 24. Mr. Flynn’s resignation follows two reports issued by the NLRB’s Inspector General (IG) criticizing conduct he engaged in as an attorney on the staff of NLRB member Brian Hayes.
Mr. Flynn began working at the NLRB in 2003 as Chief Counsel to Republican NLRB member Peter Schaumber. When Mr. Schaumber left the NLRB, Mr. Flynn joined the staff of Republican NLRB member Brian Hayes.
According to the IG’s reports, in 2010 and 2011, during his tenure with Mr. Hayes, Mr. Flynn leaked to Mr. Schaumber (who at the time was co-chair of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s labor advisory committee) and Peter Kirsanow, another former Republican NLRB member (who was serving as outside counsel to the National Association of Manufacturers) confidential information including drafts of NLRB decisions as well as materials constituting NLRB internal deliberations. In addition to Mr. Flynn’s unauthorized disclosure of confidential information received in the course of his official duties, the IG concluded that Mr. Flynn had secretly helped Mr. Schaumber prepare a newspaper opinion piece attacking an NLRB decision characterized as pro union.