“The local union officials and their representatives make a donation, get drinks and dinner, and hang out with the decision-maker for their NLRB cases.” — NLRB Office of Inspector General
According to a damning report (in full below) issued by the National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Dennis Walsh, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board’s office in Philadelphia, engaged in ethical violations, conflicts of interest, misuse of government time and equipment, solicitation of donations from parties (unions) to NLRB cases, as well as appears to have lied to investigators.
Walsh’s gross ethical lapses became the subject of an OIG investigation last year when an attorney wrote a letter calling into question Walsh’s role and apparent conflict of interest as the Chairman of the pro-union Peggy Browning Fund, while serving as an official of the NLRB.
In its investigation, the OIG found that, not only did NLRB Director Walsh solicit donations from donors to the Fund, he sent or received over 1,000 emails from the government e-mail system, appeared at Fund events wearing his NLRB insignia, allowed the NLRB logo to appear on the Fund’s website, as well as created the perception that “union officials had some special access to the NLRB process.”
“When asked to explain handwritten notes on a printed email message, the subject [Walsh] recalled that the notes were regarding a telephone call with the AFL-CIO General Counsel following up with her to check on whether she spoke to other international union general counsels about renewing Leadership Circle contributions….”
“Email messages in the subject’s Government email account do not support the subject’s assertion that he was not involved in fundraising or that he ‘scrupulously kept myself away from direct fundraising because of my affiliation with the Board.'”
Most damning in the report is that nearly 60 percent of the cases involving Walsh’s NLRB region involved at least one “prohibited source” as a contributor to the fund while Walsh was both NLRB director and chairman of the fund.
“A comparison of the individuals and entities listed as making monetary contributions in support of the Philadelphia networking event to a list of cases pending in Region 4 between March 2013 and September 2015, found that of the 2,628 charges pending during that time, 1,519 (57.8 percent) involved at least one prohibited source who made a contribution to the Peggy Browning Fund.”
Later, the OIG report states:
“The subject [Walsh] allowed his name and his employment at the NLRB to become integral component of the Peggy Browning Fund’s image, and he did so for the purpose of enhancing the ability of the fund to solicit donations from entities and individuals associated with organized labor.”
“….The local union officials and their representatives make a donation, get drinks and dinner, and hang out with the decision-maker for their NLRB cases. Under these circumstances, why wouldn’t a rank and file unit member who filed a duty of fair representation charge or a charged employer perceive that the union officials had some special access to the NLRB process? It is a perfectly reasonable and logical assumption. Unfortunately, it is a perception that could taint over half of the charges in Region 4 and the work of its staff.”
Despite all of the OIG’s finding in its report, Regional Director Dennis Walsh, was only given a wrist slap—a 30-day suspension last December.
As of today, Walsh is still the agency’s director in Philadelphia and employees and employers are still having to go through the office he is in charge of, hoping his loyalties to his union comrades won’t taint their case.