NLRB Withholds Information in Boeing Scandal Investigation, Gets Stern Response from Congress

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is already under fire for its unprecedented lawsuit trying to stop the Boeing Corporation from opening a non-union manufacturing line in South Carolina for its new Dreamliner plane. You read here two weeks ago about documents we obtained showing the NRLB’s stonewalling of Congress and the agency’s inappropriate pro-union bias.

Now the chairman of a powerful congressional House committee is steaming mad about what we found.

According to an October 17, 2011, letter from Rep. Issa, Chairman of the Committee to Lafe E. Solomon, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel:

As you are aware, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been attempting to investigate the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) complaint against The Boeing Company (Boeing) since May 12, 2011. Since then you have continuously obstructed the Committee’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight, and you have broken the law by effectively ignoring a congressional subpoena.

Specifically, Rep. Issa takes issue with documents obtained by Judicial Watch that the NLRB apparently withheld from his committee even though they were responsive to his committee’s subpoena. These documents, which we obtained on October 5, included internal correspondence between NLRB attorneys discussing the Boeing lawsuit. By way of review, here are the highlights from the documents we uncovered, which are available at

  • A May 5, 2011, email from Barry Kearney, Associate General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, to colleagues at NLRB concerning a press release issued by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) attacking Boeing: “Hooray for the red, white and blue.” NLRB attorney Miriam Szapiro responded shortly thereafter, “Good. I like this part [at last they can put it to some good use]: “the NLRB’s long-term professional Regional Staff, National Office of Advice and General Counsel reviewed this case for a year…
  • A July 12, 2011, email from NLRB Regional Director Richard Ahearn to NLRB hearing officer Peter Finch, responding to an article in The Hill newspaper about a request from Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, seeking documents related to the NLRB Boeing lawsuit: “We will politely decline.” (Mr. Ahearn signed the NRLB complaint against Boeing.)
  • A May 5, 2011, email from NLRB attorney Miriam Szapiro warning an unknown recipient (name blacked out) about reading a Wall Street Journal article supporting Boeing and criticizing compulsory unionism: “don’t look at yesterday’s WSJ; you’ll puke.”
  • In response to an April 29, 2011, Wall Street Journal article, calling on President Obama to explain the NLRB lawsuit against Boeing, NLRB attorney Jayme Sophir issues a one word email response on May 2, 2011, to NLRB attorney Debra Willen, Division of Advice: “Ugh.”

Rep. Issa notes: “[T]hese documents reveal that you and other representatives of the NLRB have not been truthful to the committee and appear to be making calculated efforts to avoid compliance with the Committee’s subpoena.

“To date, you have made it clear that you do not intend to fully comply with the Committee’s August 5, 2011, subpoena. While you have attempted to mask such defiance under the cloak of the rights of litigants, it now appears you have intentionally withheld responsive documents that do not implicate the rights of litigants. Instead they demonstrate a lack of impartiality of the NLRB.”

There’s no question about that. Here we have a supposedly independent government agency cheerleading a union attack on an American company.

Rep. Issa also concluded that the emails indicate that agency officials purposely misled the Committee, a very serious charge. For instance, NLRB officials repeatedly told the Committee that they found no documents indicating correspondence between the Office of General Counsel and the NLRB Board. Yet Judicial Watch obtained those very documents from the NLRB.

“Not only do these emails undermine the independence of the Office of the General Counsel,” Rep. Issa wrote, “but they also indicate that the NLRB is acting as a ‘rogue agency’ that believes it does not have to answer to Congress.”

Interestingly, after Judicial Watch released these emails to the public, the “rogue agency” still excluded them from a subsequent production to the Committee! “This is troubling and creates the appearance that you discovered these emails, realized they were damaging to the NLRB, and intentionally withheld them from the Committee,” Issa charged.

I’ve always said that “truth fears no inquiry.” The NLRB does not want the public to know it is in the back pockets of Big Labor. But these emails leave no doubt.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is now stepping up its efforts to get NLRB officials in for interviews to hold them to account in yet another government abuse scandal in the Obama administration.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.