Peter Schaumber, Mitt Romney’s recently relieved labor policy advisor, left the team in December just as he was being implicated in a federal ethics scandal involving NLRB member Terence Flynn. Now, the Inspector General of the NLRB is asking federal investigators to look more closely at Schaumber’s possible violations of the Hatch Act, which disallows civil servants from participating in partisan politics. From The Huffington Post:
The Hatch Act request stems from an earlier investigation by the labor board’s inspector general that found that NLRB board member Terence Flynn had allegedly violated the agency’s ethical code by sharing sensitive information with outsiders, including Schaumber, while serving as counsel last year. Flynn was notified Dec. 5 that he was being investigated. According to the aide, Schaumber left the campaign in December. The NLRB investigation first became public in March and now appears to be widening.
According to an April 3 letter, David Berry, the labor board’s inspector general, forwarded his investigation to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to see whether the correspondence between Flynn, a Republican, and Schaumber warranted “further investigation by the Hatch Act Unit.”
It seems the man that Barack Obama appointed to represent Republicans on the NLRB thanked the President by leaking sensitive information to Romney’s camp. Yet, despite this obvious ethical violation, Congress has put little effort into investigating the claims, drawing the ire of some Democrats such as Rep. Elijah Cummings:
On Thursday Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, sent a letter to committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asking for further investigation of Flynn’s and Schaumber’s actions. In the letter, Cummings chided Republicans for aggressively pursuing an investigation into lavish spending by the General Services Administration while being much slower to look for potential wrongdoing by a Republican NLRB board member and a Romney campaign adviser.
“In contrast [to the GSA case], you have been silent on the NLRB Inspector General’s report, and you have taken no action whatsoever in response to my request,” Cummings wrote. “You have called no hearings, conducted no interviews, and sent no document requests.”
Issa is as anti-labor as they come, so deep down Cummings must not be entirely surprised by his neglect. Broadly, big business Republicans have demonized the NLRB after a series of quite mild “pro-Labor victories,” the highlight of which — mandatory posters in workplaces explaining employee rights to unionize — have hardly been allowed to take root.
Team Romney’s silence on the matter has many in labor up in arms, with only an aide’s comments (“Mr. Schaumber informed us in December 2011 that he was stepping down from his volunteer advisory role.”) on the record of late. But the Inspector General first notified Flynn of the investigation on December 5th, so there is sure to be some micro-wrangling over exactly what Schaumber knew when, and why he left when he did.
Making the NLRB out to be a corrupt, dated political machine has become totally reasonable: only it was the GOP’s own guy doing the corrupting.