McDonald’s pushes back on recusal opinion from Bush ethics lawyer

  • October 11, 2018

POLITICO is reporting that McDonald’s has disputed an opinion from George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer that NLRB Chairman John Ring and member William Emanuel should recuse themselves in a case over whether the corporation is responsible for labor violations allegedly committed by franchisees and contractors.

Richard Painter, now a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said in a letter that the involvement of Ring’s and Emanuel’s former law firms clashes with President Donald Trump’s ethics pledge.

McDonald’s, in a response filing to the NLRB, described Painter as a “recently failed Democratic Senate candidate,” referring to his unsuccessful bid for the vacant seat left by former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn).

“Painter’s analysis ignores the plain language of the order and is based neither on the text of the recusal rules, nor board precedent,” McDonald’s wrote. “Instead, Painter urges this board to adopt a newly minted standard, based solely upon his misapplication of applicable rules and unsupported opinions. The board should disregard Painter’s letter and deny charging parties’ motion for recusal.”

The filing was obtained by POLITICO in advance of posting on the NLRB’s public docket.

While Ring’s and Emanuel’s law firms — Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson, respectively — were not directly involved in the McDonald’s case, Painter said that they did advise McDonald’s on matters related to employee pay and union organizing. The problem, Painter argued, is that the advice became tangled in the current dispute before the NLRB.