On Obama’s recess appointees, buyer’s remorse?


President Obama recess-appointed Richard Cordray, director of a new consumer watchdog agency. But he might regret another of his picks. (Michael Reynolds/Bloomberg)

Aside from royally ticking off Republicans, the move to bypass Congress and install a handful of nominees seems to have installed a Trojan horse on the board. Terence Flynn, a Republican who was one of the White House’s recess appointments, is accused of sharing inside information about the board with private-sector friends, including Mitt Romney’s top labor adviser.

So it seems the very guy that President Obama took flack for appointing is allegedly providing aid and comfort to the enemy. Might be cause for a case of buyer’s remorse.

According to an inspector general report, Flynn violated ethics rules by supplying information about the board’s inner workings with two former GOP members, Peter Kirsanow and Peter Schaumber.

Schaumber is the co-chairman of Romney’s labor advisory group.

Congressional Democrats now are pouncing on the Flynn-Romney-campaign connection. Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) this week sent a letter to Flynn, asking him for more information about his contact with outsiders.

Not only do Dems fear the Obama appointee could be assisting Romney, Harkin says he worries that Flynn’s loose lips might also be helping to arm critics of the NLRB. In recent months, Republicans have hammered the agency for favoring unions over business interests.

“Mr. Flynn’s disclosure of confidential information ... raises the alarming possibility that the recent political attacks on the Board could have been aided and abetted by his unethical activity,” Harkin said in a statement.

Flynn’s lawyer, Barry Coburn, says his client “committed no wrongdoing.”

“Mr. Flynn is troubled by the politicization of this internal matter... and feels that this manufactured controversy is emblematic of the mean-spirited political theatrics that currently paralyze Washington and deter individuals from public service,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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