Former ethics officer says NLRB inspector general ‘improperly’ cleared Obama appointee of wrongdoing

Republican congressman John Kline, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, requested an OIG investigation into Solomon’s conduct on April 13. The subsequent OIG investigation lasted several months.

The OIG determined in a September 13 report that Solomon violated 18 USC § 208, the basic criminal conflict of interest statute, with his participation in the January 23 meeting.

“We find that Mr. Solomon did in fact participate personally and substantially, as the Acting General Counsel, in the case involving Wal-Mart’s social media policy knowing that he owned Wal-Mart stock valued at $15,000.00 or more, and that the case involving Wal-Mart’s social media policy would have a direct and predictable effect on that financial interest,” according to the OIG report.

The OIG, however, determined that Solomon did not intentionally try to personally enrich himself.

The report also found that “extenuating and mitigating circumstances,” including an “adversarial” relationship between Solomon and Joseph that corrupted the NLRB ethics office, should clear Solomon of civil or criminal liability.

“[T]he environment at the NLRB in which this violation occurred was dysfunctional and adversarial,” according to the OIG report.

Despite determining that Solomon knowingly committed an ethical violation, the OIG report blamed the NLRB’s ethics program for failing to stop him.

“That everything failed to stop Mr. Solomon is evidence of a complete failure of the NLRB’s standards of conduct program with regard to the Office of the General Counsel,” according to the OIG report.

The report also concluded that Joseph was at fault, since she “should have taken steps to provide counseling to Mr. Solomon on his ethical duties” after she received his waiver request.

The OIG report seemed to indicate that Solomon’s “dysfunctional and adversarial relationship” with Joseph was the reason he failed to disclose his conflict of interest in the first place.

“Mr. Solomon’s failure to timely submit a waiver request or seek ethics counseling and the Director of Administration/DAEO’s failure to offer to meet with and counsel Mr. Solomon are evidence of a complete lack of communication between the two of them,” according to the OIG report.

The report highlighted an email Joseph sent Solomon on Jan. 20, three days before Solomon attended the meeting in question.

“Lafe, What is the status of your nomination? Did it expire when Congress went out or is it one of the ones that Reid carried over? No crisis. I was just trying to figure out when a new 210 day period would begin to run. Gloria,” Joseph emailed Solomon.

Joseph sent Solomon a follow-up email fourteen minutes later declaring, “Never mind. I found the answer.”

The OIG wrote that “questioning him on when his time as Acting General Counsel might end,” was evidence of “the adversarial nature of that situation,” and suggested that Joseph “appears to have been looking for a justification to deny [Solomon] the waiver.”