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Inspector General initiates ethics investigation into Becker’s refusal to recuse himself in St. Barnabas ruling

Prompted by a request from US Rep Darrell Issa (R-Ca), NLRB Inspector General David Berry has agreed to initiate an inquiry into whether Board Member Craig Becker’s participation in a case between the SEIU and St. Barnabas Hospital violated ethics rules. Upon accepting his recess appointment, Becker signed the ethics pledge stating that he would not participate in any matter involving his former employer or clients for a period of two years. Becker, a former counsel for the SEIU International Union, explained that while he would not sit in on a case in which the International was a party, he would hear cases involving SEIU locals with whom he had not had contact during this tenure with the International union. In keeping with this decision, Becker on June 2 heard a case involving a dispute over a Regional Director’s direction of election, a matter that involved an SEIU local.

In response, Issa, the ranking Republican member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote to Berry on June 15, calling attention to Becker’s participation and suggesting that it violated the ethics pledge. “This appears to be a case,” wrote Issa, “where Member Becker should have recused himself.” Citing concerns over the “integrity of the NLRB,” Issa claimed an investigation was necessary to prevent future NLRB decisions from being “tainted by bias.” Berry responded on June 24 that he would initiate the investigation, which he hoped to complete by July 31.

Issa has made no secret of his plans to use the Oversight Committee to put pressure on the Obama Administration. To this end, Issa recently promised to double his staff if the Republicans win the House in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Politico.