AFL-CIO calls on Romney to dismiss labor advisor

AP News
Posted: Mar 26, 2012 5:31 PM
AFL-CIO calls on Romney to dismiss labor advisor

The AFL-CIO on Monday called for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to dismiss a campaign labor advisor linked to an ethics investigation at the National Labor Relations Board.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Peter Schaumber, a former Republican member of the NLRB, used his connections to obtain inside information from a current board member.

Schaumber has not been accused of wrongdoing. But a report last week from the agency's inspector general found that current board member Terence Flynn violated ethics rules by leaking details of internal board deliberations to Schaumber and others.

The inspector general's report has been referred to the Justice Department for further investigation.

Trumka also said Flynn should resign from the five-member board, which polices unfair labor practices and supervises union elections. The inspector general's report said Flynn committed the violations in 2011, when he was chief counsel to the board's other current GOP member, Brian Hayes.

It said Flynn improperly shared inside information about the status of pending cases and the early positions of board members before decisions were released.

"The report makes clear that Schaumber used his inside connections through his former chief counsel Flynn to get internal, confidential information that he then utilized in ongoing public attacks on the actions of the NLRB," Trumka said.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Schaumber, now a labor relations consultant, also did not respond to an e-mail and phone call requesting comment.

Flynn issued a statement Monday denying any wrongdoing and vowed to remain on the board.

"I am troubled by the politicization of this internal matter, in which I have committed no wrongdoing, and feel that this manufactured controversy is emblematic of the mean-spirited political theatrics that currently paralyze Washington and deter individuals from public service," Flynn said.

Also on Monday, Flynn's outside counsel, Barry Coburn, released a detailed letter that was submitted in response to the inspector general's report last week. In the letter, Coburn said Flynn "disclosed nothing of any substance" to outside parties about the board's internal deliberations. He said one email about the status of pending cases was "inadvertent and innocuous."

Coburn also said Flynn's emails to Schaumber commenting about various board decisions were minor and "in no way constituted excessive or improper use of government equipment." Flynn had worked for Schaumber from 2003 to 2010 and the two spoke frequently about board matters, Coburn said.