Issa, Democrats, NLRB spar over oversight committee document demands

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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A subpoena war may be brewing between the National Labor Relations Board and House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican, as they squabble over whether the labor agency is meeting document production requirements.

Rep. Issa set a Friday noon deadline this week for the NLRB to respond to a subpoena he issued. According to a letter from NLRB general counsel Lafe Solomon to Rep. Issa, which The Daily Caller has obtained, the NLRB provided Issa with more than 4,300 pages of documents Friday. That’s in addition to the NLRB’s claims that it has previously provided Issa with more than 1,500 pages.

It’s unclear what each of those pages contained, and whether they met Issa’s requirements. Either way, Issa is not happy with the response.

“The National Labor Relations Board and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon have thus far failed to comply with a lawful subpoena,” Issa said in a statement. “This refusal by NLRB to abide by the law further heightens concerns that this is a rogue agency acting improperly. The integrity of NLRB and its leadership is clearly in question.”

Issa’s subpoena required that the NLRB and its general counsel, Lafe Solomon, provide all documents and internal communications relating to the case against The Boeing Company for opening its new plant in South Carolina.

“The public has a right to know the truth about why a government agency would choose to take action to benefit organized labor, that threatens thousands of non-union jobs in South Carolina, while setting a precedent impacting manufacturers across the country,” Issa said. “It is imperative that Congress get complete facts about NLRB’s decision-making process in this matter. Its continued refusal to fully cooperate will not deter this committee as it moves forward in efforts to determine what occurred and to hold NLRB officials to account.”

A new development appears to arise from the feud between Issa and the NLRB over document production and subpoena issuance. Several high-ranking House Democrats are bashing Issa and calling for the chairman to rescind his NLRB subpoena entirely.

Ranking oversight committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat; judiciary committee ranking member Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat; and education and workforce committee chairman Rep. George Miller, California Democrat signed a letter calling on Issa to back down.

“You may personally disagree with the laws Congress enacted to protect workers against discrimination,” they wrote to Issa on Friday. “You may also disagree with the judge’s decision in this case upholding those laws. But it is not a legitimate use of the Committee’s authority to circumvent those laws on behalf of corporate interests.”

Reached for a response to the Democrats’ letter, an oversight committee  spokesman told TheDC: “The Committee has issued a lawful subpoena and it expects NLRB to comply.”

Also, according to the NLRB’s written response acquired by The Daily Caller, Solomon has requested an informal briefing with Issa and Cummings. Solomon’s argument is that Issa’s actions and subpoena may threaten the constitutional separation of powers, as well as the NLRB’s ability to continue litigating.

“We continue to believe that the subpoena’s demand for confidential documents from our ongoing law enforcement raises substantial separation of powers concerns because it threatens to seriously impair the Agency’s ability to perform its function of executing the law,” Solomon wrote to Issa. “Moreover, the subpoena threatens to undermine the agency’s independence.”

It is for this reason that Solomon says he wants to meet with Issa and Cummings informally. Issa’s staff wouldn’t answer when TheDC asked if he would agree to such an informal meeting.