The Department of Justice has charged a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) employee with taking bribes to pass sensitive information to an anti-union consulting firm. According to a request for an arrest warrant filed in the Southern District of New York on December 8, NLRB employee Anett Rodrigues allegedly “solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks in exchange for providing non-public information from the NLRB’s systems to an outside consultant, who then sold that information to the entities with business before the NLRB.”
According to the DOJ, the scheme began in 2017. An unnamed consulting firm and its owner and founder would routinely reach out to Rodrigues with specific requests for documents his clients wanted. “Consulting company would also sell clients NLRB documents that had been obtained other than via the FOIA process, including documents that [the co-conspirator] obtained from Anett Rodrigues, the defendant, in exchange for the payment of bribes,” court documents said.
According to the charging documents, the consulting company advertised its services to clients by claiming in “the competitive world of labor relations, staying ahead of the pack counts.” The consulting firm said it had a “powerful tool” that would help clients get information faster than other methods. The company claimed it offered “the fastest way to obtain NLRB information.”
A Google search for the exact wording mentioned in the charging documents returns only one result—Labor Research Partners (LRP). LRP advertises its reporting as “the fastest available” and claims it’s able to produce “next day reporting of National Labor Relations Board filings.” LRP did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.
LRP advertises “union-free resources” on its website and links to an anti-union employee relations firm called Projections. “Since 1979, Projections has been helping employers connect with employees and remain union-free,” LRP’s website said. “Because Projections is dedicated to utilizing the most advanced technology, Labor Research Partners is able to provide Report subscribers with full NLRB Petition reports on their mobile devices through Projections Labor Insider App.”
According to the court documents, Rodrigues worked as a Field Examiner for the NLRB’s Newark, New Jersey regional office and routinely accessed documents outside her area of concern. “All told, between late 2017 and early 2021, Rodrigues accessed over 4,000 documents from outside of her region,” the court said. “Rodrigues regularly accessed documents on the NLRB's internal computer systems that were not yet available to the public, and that she had no business reason to access.”
The DOJ alleged that Rodrigues would take pictures of the documents she accessed and sell them to the co-conspirator and his consulting firm. At some point, the NLRB noticed Rodrigues was up to something and suspended her in early February 2021 pending an investigation. Later that month, a judge issued a warrant to search her electronic devices. “A folder of ‘recently deleted’ items that was saved to Rodrigues’s iCloud backup contained a number of photographs of computer screens, showing documents that appeared to be internal NLRB documents,” the court documents said.
The charging documents said that Rodrigues had been exchanging texts with the owner of the consulting firm for five years and that some of the recent messages were still stored in her iCloud backup. “On or about February 1, 2021, CC-1 wrote to Rodrigues, among other things, ‘Aside from the 271988 which I sent you earlier, I have a customer that inquired about getting 33 cases.”
The number 271988 referred to a specific case file. Investigators said they later found pictures of the case file with that number in Rodrigues’ iCloud account. During an April interrogation, Rodrigues admitted that she’d accessed the files for the consulting firm but denied taking bribes.
In an interview in July, the consulting firm’s owner admitted that he’d gotten the pictures of case files from Rodrigues and that he’d paid her for them. “[The co-conspirator] explained that he then sold the documents obtained from Rodrigues to his clients,” the charging documents said.
The National Labor Relations Board declined to comment, saying it could not comment on an ongoing investigation.