A senior policy adviser at the Department of Labor who was forced to resign last week after a Bloomberg Law reporter smeared him, was reinstated Wednesday night, the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak reported in an exclusive.
According to a senior Labor Department official, Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella “personally made this decision after carefully reviewing all the facts and circumstances.” The official added, “he concluded that a correction is much better than an injustice.”
Leif Olson, a conservative appellate lawyer who started as an adviser in the department’s Wage and Hour Division on Aug. 12, left the department abruptly on Friday after Bloomberg Law reporter Ben Penn contacted the White House and Labor Department about what he portrayed as anti-Semitic Facebook posts from 2016.
After news broke that he had been rehired, Olson took to Twitter to express his gratitude “for the opportunity to continue to serve.”
Olson’s ouster was immediately criticized because the posts in question were quickly revealed to be an obvious attempt to mock the alt-right using sarcastic humor.
Rather than an exposé on a Trump administration official’s latent antisemitism, Penn’s “scoop” turned out to be more of an exposé on how low a liberal media operative will go to take out a political adversary.
Penn’s report was denounced by pundits on both the left and the right as an apparent attempt at character assassination.
The reporter had highlighted an exchange on Facebook between Olson and a few others sarcastically reacting to then-Speaker Paul Ryan’s blow-out victory against alt-right figure Paul Nehlen in the 2016 primary election. In his report, Penn seemed to purposefully crop off a comment in the thread referencing his “epic sarcasm.”
Bloomberg stood by Penn’s story, suggesting that Olson’s ouster was tantamount to an admission of guilt.
“We stand behind our reporting,” spokesman David Peikin told the Washington Post. “We contacted the White House and the Department of Labor asking for comment on Mr. Olson’s Facebook posts. Within four hours, the Department of Labor responded that Mr. Olson had resigned.”
Now that Olson has been reinstated, it would seem incumbent upon Bloomberg Law to retract Penn’s shoddy report, but that remains to be seen.
The Anti-Defamation League initially condemned Olson’s Facebook Posts, but later issued an updated statement saying they “accept his explanation” that the content was meant to be sarcastic.
The Department of Labor reversed course after “thorough examination of the available information,” according to its statement Wednesday night.
“On Friday, August 30, 2019, senior policy adviser of the Wage and Hour Division Leif Olson offered his resignation and the department accepted,” the department said in a statement to the DCNF.
“Following a thorough reexamination of the available information and upon reflection, the department has concluded that Olson has satisfactorily explained the tone and content of his sarcastic social media post and will return to his position.”
According to Rosiak, Olson resigned last Friday “within four hours of Penn emailing government officials about the post.”
It wasn’t immediately clear who had pressured him to resign so quickly due to the false accusations, and why the resignation was accepted.