Following allegations by the National Labor Relations Board Inspector General that NLRB member Terence Flynn, a Republican, violated ethics standards, unions are calling for his resignation and Democratic lawmakers are asking for a Justice Dept. investigation.
But Flynn's representative, Barry Coburn, an attorney at the Washington, D.C., firm Coburn & Greenbaum, says Flynn "strenuously objects" to claims he engaged in any improper conduct while serving as chief counsel to former board member Peter Schaumber in 2011.
President Barack Obama appointed Flynn and two Democrats to the board during a congressional recess in January.
A March 19 report by the NLRB inspector general alleged that Flynn provided confidential information to former board members Peter Kirsanow and Schaumber for their private benefit. "Given Mr. Flynn's position as [Schaumber's] 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," IG David P. Berry wrote in his report.
In a written response, Coburn dismissed the conduct described in the report as "innocuous." He said that Flynn was merely "appropriately available" to individuals within the board's constituency. "To the extent he may have, on one occasion, forwarded an e-mail that reprinted an earlier e-mail from someone else, this was a non-substantive error and inadvertent oversight on Mr. Flynn's part," Coburn said.
Construction industry officials are reserving judgment on the matter.
"The cries for resignation are premature," says Denise Gold, Associated General Contractors associate general counsel. "Certainly the report raises concerns about possible improprieties, [but] it's not clear that Mr. Flynn was given a proper opportunity to review and respond to the IG's accusations."
However, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Flynn should resign and that Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, should dismiss Schaumber as co-chairman of his labor- policy advisory group.