Richard Griffin, formerly one of President Obama’s recess appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, was picked Thursday to be board’s acting general counsel. The move had been rumored for some time and was made the same week the Senate approved five members to board.
The general counsel is the board’s top lawyer and the position is arguably as powerful as being a boardmember. The counsel can initiate complaints and has discretion over what cases to pursue.
Griffin was placed on the board in January 2012 over objections from Republicans, who noted the Senate was not in recess at time. Three courts have subsequently ruled that such appointments are unconstitutional.
Obama then re-nominated Griffin, but Republicans balked, arguing his nomination was tainted due to the court rulings. His nomination was pulled as part of the Senate filibuster showdown on July 16.
Ironically, Griffin may avoid Senate conformation with his new position too. Although his nomination technically requires Senate approval, the current general counsel, Lafe Solomion, has been serving without Senate confirmation since 201o. The White House has the power to simply appoint acting counsels.
The pro-business Workforce Fairness Institute slammed the move, calling it “an affront to those interested in economic growth, respect for the rule of law or integrity in government” in a statement.
For more on Griffin’s appointment and politics involved, see my July 28 column, “Senate GOP leaders got taken to the cleaners on NLRB deal.”