Wage nom­i­nee at La­bor also works for AFL-CIO

Job va­cant for three years due to other nominees’ con­flicts

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY JIM MCEL­HAT­TON

When the White House nom­i­nated David Weil to be in charge of wage en­force­ment for the La­bor Depart­ment, of­fi­cials stressed his weighty aca­demic cre­den­tials as a Bos­ton Univer­sity pro­fes­sor and Har­vard Univer­sity re­searcher.

But of­fi­cials never men­tioned his side work con­sult­ing for the AFL-CIO.

The nom­i­nee dis­closed $24,000 in con­sult­ing fees from the AFL-CIO since last year in a re­cent govern­ment ethics fil­ing re­viewed by The Wash­ing­ton Times.

It’s un­clear whether the la­bor con­sult­ing deal will re­quire Mr. Weil to get a waiver from Pres­i­dent Obama’s ethics rules, which bar ap­pointees from par­tic­i­pat­ing in par­tic­u­lar mat­ters in­volv­ing for­mer clients or em­ploy­ers. The AFL-CIO spends mil­lions of dol­lars lob­by­ing fed­eral agen­cies, in­clud­ing the La­bor Depart­ment, on min­i­mum wage and other is­sues.

Nei­ther Mr. Weil nor the La­bor Depart­ment re­sponded to in­quiries Tues­day. But it’s an is­sue that al­ready is get­ting at­ten­tion as Se­nate aides vet his nom­i­na­tion.

“We’d want to know specif­i­cally what he’d do if AFL-CIO should come to his door,” said a Repub­li­can Se­nate aide, who was not au­tho­rized to speak about the vet­ting be­cause the nom­i­na­tion is pend­ing.

A spokes­woman for the AFL-CIO con­firmed Mr. Weil worked for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Dave Weil did limited work with the fed­er­a­tion in help­ing to fa­cil­i­tate two se­nior staff re­treats but did not work on any sub­stan­tive is­sues for the fed­er­a­tion,” AFL-CIO spokes­woman Amaya Smith said in an email.

The White House an­nounce­ment of Mr. Weil’s nom­i­na­tion noted both his po­si­tions as pro­fes­sor of mar­kets, pub­lic pol­icy and law at Bos­ton Univer­sity as well as his work as a fel­low and codi­rec­tor of the trans­parency project at the John F. Kennedy School of Govern­ment at Har­vard. Ac­cord­ing to his ethics form, Mr. Weil earned more from the AFL-CIO than he did from Har­vard. His se­lec­tion was an­nounced in Septem­ber along with more than two dozen other nom­i­na­tions for po­lit­i­cally ap­pointed jobs across govern­ment.

“I am grate­ful that these tal­ented and ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als have agreed to take on these im­por­tant roles and de­vote their tal­ents to serv­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Mr. Obama said in a state­ment.

But Mr. Obama hasn’t had much suc­cess in fill­ing the job Mr. Weil is seek­ing. It has re­mained without a Se­nate­con­firmed ap­pointee for years.

Mr. Obama’s first se­lec­tion, Lorelei Boy­land, with­drew her name amid Repub­li­can op­po­si­tion over her in­volve­ment in a state “wage watch” pro­gram in New York, a first-of-its-kind pro­gram that dep­u­tized unions and ad­vo­cacy groups to visit pri­vate busi­nesses and re­port wage vi­o­la­tions to the govern­ment, The ad­min­is­tra­tion yanked a se­cond nom­i­nee, Leon Ro­driguez, in 2011.

The Wage and Hour Di­vi­sion en­forces min­i­mum wage, over­time pay and the Fam­ily and Med­i­cal Leave Act, among other la­bor laws. With the top job va­cant, Laura Fort­man, a for­mer top la­bor of­fi­cial in Maine, over­sees the di­vi­sion.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion may face a Se­nate bat­tle in its bid to nom­i­nate Mr. Weil, too, ac­cord­ing to the le­gal news site Law 360, which re­ported that the nom­i­nee’s 2010 re­port “Im­prov­ing Work­place Con­di­tions Through Strate­gic En­force­ment” has served as a blue­print for the Depart­ment of La­bor di­vi­sion’s en­force­ment pri­or­i­ties.

“We know from [Mr. Weil’s] record and based on the re­port he wrote in 2010 that he fa­vors sig­nif­i­cantly ramped-up puni­tive mea­sures to­ward em­ploy­ers,” Paul De­Camp, a for­mer wage and hour ad­min­is­tra­tor, told Law 360.

“In a lot of ways, he brings an en­force­ment phi­los­o­phy that seems to be en­tirely con­sis­tent with where the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been on these is­sues for the past 4 1⁄2 years, and as a re­sult, I think that he may find Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion to be elu­sive.”

Mean­while, Se­nate aides plan to seek more de­tails about Mr. Weil’s work for or­ga­nized la­bor and whether any po­ten­tial con­flicts could arise.

“It’s a con­cern for any nom­i­nee and it’s some­thing we do thru out the vet­ting process,” the Se­nate aide said. “I’m fairly cer­tain this will come up.”

Mr. Weil wrote a let­ter to a La­bor Depart­ment ethics of­fi­cial say­ing he plans to cease all of his con­sult­ing work when con­firmed.

“In ad­di­tion, I will not par­tic­i­pate per­son­ally and sub­stan­tially in any par­tic­u­lar mat­ter in­volv­ing spe­cific par­ties in which a for­mer client of mine is a party …” he wrote.

Mr. Weil is hardly the only ad­min­is­tra­tion nom­i­nee from academia who earned in­come on the side by con­sult­ing.

Ash­ton B. Carter, named the Pen­tagon’s top weapons buyer in 2011, also was a pro­fes­sor at Har­vard, ac­cord­ing to the White House an­nounce­ment of his nom­i­na­tion. But the an­nounce­ment didn’t men­tion he also earned money con­sult­ing for de­fense firms.

Like­wise, James Stein­berg, who served as one of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s top deputies, worked as a dean at the Univer­sity of Texas. Dis­clo­sure forms at the time showed he also con­sulted part-time for the Glover Park Group, a lob­by­ing firm with ties to the Clin­tons.

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