September 15, 2019

DOL Official Reinstated After Resigning for ‘Sarcastic’ Remarks Bloomberg Called ‘Anti-Semitic’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Department of Labor (DOL) official Leif Olson was reinstated on Sept. 4 to his position in the department after he initially resigned due to a Sept. 3 Bloomberg report calling his comments on Facebook “anti-Semitic.”

The DOL said in a statement posted to their website, “On Friday, August 30, 2019, Senior Policy Advisor of the Wage and Hour Division, Leif Olson offered his resignation and the Department accepted. Following a thorough reexamination of the available information and upon reflection, the Department has concluded that Mr. Olson has satisfactorily explained the tone of the content of his sarcastic social media posts and will return to his position in the Wage and Hour Division.”

The comments in question are from Aug. 2016, when Olson posted a status mocking white nationalist Paul Nehlen for a 70-point defeat in his attempt to primary then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). A commenter called Ryan a “neo-con,” prompting Olson to reply that “neo-cons are all Upper East Side Zionists who don’t golf on Saturday if you know what I mean.” The commenter then said Ryan is a Jew, and Olson replied that “it must be true because I’ve never seen the Lamestream Media report it, and you know they protect their own.”

Bloomberg reporter Benjamin Penn called the aforementioned remarks “anti-Semitic” in a Sept. 3 piece reporting that Olson had resigned from the DOL; Olson told Bloomberg that his Facebook comments were “sarcastic criticism of the alt-right’s conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic positions.” Anti-Defamation League spokesman Jake Hyman told Bloomberg that the posts were anti-Semitic; later in the day he told The Washington Post, “We appreciate Mr. Olson’s clarification that he intended to be sarcastic with his posts and accept his explanation of the content in question.”

Olson tweeted, “I’m grateful to be heading back to work. Thank you, Acting Secretary @PatPizzellaDOL and @WHD_DOL Administrator Cheryl Stanton for the opportunity to continue to serve.”

Bloomberg and Penn have stood by their reporting prior to the DOL’s Sept. 4 announcement, saying that Penn simply sent the department a screenshot and they responded that Olson had resigned. Neither have responded to the Journal’s requests for comment.