Labor Board Member Resigns Over Leak to GOP Allies

Steven Greenhouse|The New York Times

The National Labor Relations Board announced on Sunday that one of its five members, Terence F. Flynn, had resigned after the board’s inspector general found that Mr. Flynn, a Republican, leaked documents to G.O.P. allies.

The board’s chairman, Mark Gaston Pearce, said Mr. Flynn, who joined the board in January, had submitted his resignation on Saturday evening by fax and e-mail.

The N.L.R.B.’s inspector general, David P. Berry, issued a report in early May that found that Mr. Flynn had committed serious ethical violations by leaking drafts of board decisions and details of internal deliberations to Peter Schaumber, a former labor board chairman who had been co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s laboradvisory committee.

Mr. Berry’s report said, “Mr. Flynn’s public statement that he has engaged in no wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of the board and all but eviscerates the due process procedures that the board has established.” The labor board oversees union elections, organizing drives and labor-management relations at private sector employers.

Mr. Flynn has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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 his May report and one in March, Mr. Berry said the ethical violations occurred in 2010 and 2011, when Mr. Flynn was a staff lawyer for a Republican member of the board, Brian Hayes. Mr. Flynn joined the board in 2003 as chief counsel to Mr. Schaumber, then an N.L.R.B. member.

Mr. Berry found that Mr. Flynn had leaked information to Mr. Schaumber and to Peter Kirsanow, a former Republican N.L.R.B. member who was serving as outside counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers. The Romney campaign said Mr. Schaumber had stepped down from his advisory position in December, which was after Mr. Berry’s investigation began. The inspector general’s reports did not accuse Mr. Schaumber of using the material he had received from Mr. Flynn to help the Romney campaign.

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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.”

The Flynn case has been referred to the Justice Departmentfor investigation and to the Federal Office of Special Counsel, which is looking into possible violations of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from participating in partisan political activity.

Mr. Pearce said that Mr. Flynn had asked that his resignation be effective on July 24, but would immediately recuse himself from all agency business. Mr. Flynn, who was a recess appointee with two Democratic board members, also asked that President Obama withdraw his formal nomination to the board, which was awaiting Senate confirmation.

The inspector general also issued a report in March that revealed examples of Mr. Flynn sharing confidential board information. The inspector general said he had expanded his investigation after Mr. Flynn publicly denied any wrongdoing.

In response to Mr. Berry’s findings, Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, who is chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, and Representative George Miller of California, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, called on Mr. Flynn to resign.

Senator Harkin said Mr. Flynn’s actions “potentially violated the due process rights of the parties, undermined the enforcement of laws enacted by Congress, and demonstrated a fundamental lack of integrity and the professional judgment required of a public servant.”