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Romney campaign quietly scrubs all mentions of anti-labor adviser Peter Schaumber

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 14:10 EDT
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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) speaking at an event in 2010. Photo: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.
 
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The campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has scrubbed its website of all mentions of its former top labor adviser, Peter Schaumber, following the resignation of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member Terence Flynn, who is accused of leaking internal government documents to Schaumber in violation of federal law.

Specifically, the Romney campaign appears to have spirited away a column published last Sept. by Schaumber that blames working people for America’s sagging economy and suggests that labor unions may no longer even be necessary. Schaumber was named Romney’s top labor policy adviser less than a week after writing that column, but he resigned in April following allegations involving improper leaks from Flynn.

Republican attorney Terence Flynn, who secured his spot on the NLRB thanks to a recess appointment by President Barack Obama in January, resigned his post on Sunday. Two successive NLRB Inspector General (IG) reports, one of them published last Friday, allege that Flynn gave internal documents to two former NLRB board members, including Schaumber. The IG began investigating the leak as a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities while on duty.

The first IG report on Flynn’s activities, published in March, triggered Schaumber’s exit from the Romney campaign less than a month later. Schaumber, the former chairman of the NLRB, was appointed by President George W. Bush and served during Flynn’s time as an NLRB attorney. The IG concluded that Flynn improperly leaked internal documents in 2010 and 2011 to Schaumber and Peter Kirsanow, an attorney for the National Association of Manufacturers and former NLRB board member.

A second IG report (PDF), published Friday by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back. It claims that an examination of Flynn’s government hard drive revealed numerous communications between he and Schaumber detailing internal NLRB deliberations and efforts to coordinate Schaumber’s messaging in the media.

“Given Mr. Flynn’s position as a 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,” the report concludes. “We also find that the improper disclosure of information to former Members Kirsanow and Schaumber amounted to a conversion of the information for the private benefit of former Member Kirsanow and his client, the National Association of Manufacturers, and former Member Schaumber’s labor relations consulting and/or legal practice.”

Flynn’s attorney insists his client’s actions were not illegal. The Romney campaign, however, seems to be hedging its bets.

On Sept. 6, 2011, less than a week after he published an editorial in The National Review that quoted an NLRB board member’s dissenting opinion contained in privileged documents leaked by Flynn, Schaumber published a column on MittRomney.com that placed blame for America’s economic malaise squarely upon organized labor. Romney announced just six days later that he’d picked Schaumber to co-chair his labor policy advisory group.

That Sept. 6 column, along with every other mention of Schaumber, has since been scrubbed from Romney’s website. Despite the campaign’s attempt to send its former adviser down the memory hole, Schaumber’s anti-labor essay was preserved on Google Cache and archived by Raw Story.

In the column, Schaumber suggests that organized labor will simply have to relinquish bargaining power to management or “be satisfied with a smaller footprint in the private sector.” Schaumber goes on to claim that the Obama administration’s NLRB has too often favored the rights of working people, which he believes has impeded economic growth. He also adds that, in his view, laws protecting workers’ rights — on the books today because of union activism — have now made unionization of private sector employees “no longer necessary.”

Schaumber additionally suggests that if President Obama is elected to another term, it will “virtually guarantee [an NLRB] controlled by union partisans whose goal will be to continue to augment union power at the expense of workers’ rights and legitimate management interests,” saying, “Mitt Romney offers a different future.”

“He understands the harm to the economy caused by activist bureaucrats who make the law unstable and unpredictable to increase union power,” Schaumber opines. “In his extensive private sector experience, he has seen firsthand the importance of flexibility in the workplace and a cooperative, rather than combative, relationship between labor and management.”

President Obama has in recent weeks taken to criticizing Romney’s treatment of workers during his time as CEO of the private equity firm Bain Capital. Though most companies under Bain’s management did in fact stay in business, many faced significant cuts to workers’ pay, benefits and pensions, and President Obama has singled out a slew of firms that Bain essentially destroyed.

One particular case highlighted by the president’s reelection campaign details how Bain purchased majority stake in a Kansas City steel mill, Worldwide Grinding Systems, then changed changed its name to GST Steel and proceeded to slash employees’ monthly pension payouts, renege on a promise of health insurance and stack the company with massive debts.

When GST Steel finally went bankrupt less than a decade later, over 750 employees lost their jobs and Bain threw out their severance pay and pensions. The federal government was ultimately forced to pay $44 million to bail out the GST Steel’s pension fund, but Romney’s firm walked away with more than $16 million in profits.

Romney’s website explains that the candidate believes strengthening organized labor is “probably the last thing” America needs, and that as president he will encourage states to curb or eliminate union rights to collectively bargain for better worker pay and benefits.

The Romney campaign did not respond to Raw Story’s request for comment. It is not clear specifically when the Romney campaign removed Schaumber from its website.
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Photo: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.

(H/T: Talking Points Memo)

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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