A deal letting a National Labor Relations Board member delay his departure amid accusations of ethics violations is a waste of money and should be investigated, two governance advocates said.
Terence Flynn, a Republican whose salary is $155,500 a year, recused himself and will be paid until he departs July 24 under terms worked out by the board, the agency said. Flynn’s colleagues said an inspector general’s report accusing Flynn of releasing non-public information had created distractions.
“The NLRB is now paying somebody that is professing (he) will do nothing while on the government payroll,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group that monitors government integrity. “I would think someone in the House would want a hearing on this waste of government money.”
The board’s inspector general said in a May 2 report that Flynn, while serving as chief counsel to a Republican board member, gave internal information, such as a draft of an agency decision, to former agency members, including one who worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign last year. The AFL-CIO labor federation and two Democrats in Congress had called on Flynn to resign after the disclosures.
The board and staff “worked tirelessly to reach a resolution acceptable to all concerned,” chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said in a joint statement with the other members.
Pearce said Flynn’s cases would be reassigned, along with his staff, to the other members of the board.
With a case backlog and no vacancies on the five-member board, President Barack Obama will be unable to name a successor to Flynn, said Leslie Paige, the vice president for policy and communications at Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based nonprofit group. Flynn shouldn’t be able to dictate when he departs, she said.
“It’s not out of the goodness of his heart, but because he was under investigation,” Paige said. “If he’s resigning, he should do it immediately.”
Flynn was appointed by Obama along with two Democrats in January when the Senate wasn’t in session, bypassing confirmation. Republicans criticized Obama’s action. Flynn is one of two Republicans on the five-member board.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said he “can’t speculate” on an announcement of a successor for Flynn.
The inspector general’s report said Flynn, while chief counsel to a Republican member and before he was appointed by Obama, improperly gave a draft of an unpublished decision and dissents in three cases to Peter Schaumber, his NLRB boss until August 2010.
Some of the information was released to Schaumber while he was a labor adviser to Romney, according to Inspector General David P. Berry. Schaumber’s name has since been dropped from Romney’s campaign website.
A report on Flynn’s actions was sent April 3 to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates violations of laws barring government workers from using their jobs for political activities. Berry cited communications to Flynn after Schaumber became co-chairman of Romney’s labor policy group.
Information also was shared with Peter Kirsanow, a former NLRB member working for the National Association of Manufacturers, Berry said.
In response to the March 19 report from the inspector general, Flynn said he had done nothing improper and intended to fulfill his responsibilities on the board.