Whistleblower Protection Blog

Whistleblower Protection Blog

Advocating Whistleblower Rights for over Twenty Years

The Chamber’s Justification for Barring FCA Cases after Defendants Make a Disclosure to the Government Is a Green Light for Fraud

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam

The Chamber of Commerce has commenced a well-financed and aggressive lobbying campaign to undermine America’s most effective whistleblower law, the False Claims Act. To justify its anti-whistleblower campaign the Chamber published a report entitled, “Fixing the False Claims Act: the Case For Compliance-Focused Reforms.” The purpose of this blog series is to combat the Chamber’s misinformation, and explain why the False Claims Act must be protected.

Whistleblowers and their supporters are strongly urged to read this blog series and share it with friends. In addition, an Action Alert has been issued by the National Whistleblower Center so members of the public inform their representatives that the False Claims Act should not be “reformed” as proposed by the Chamber.

Fact Number 19:

The Chamber argued on page 16 of their report that “under the current FCA a qui tam plaintiff who files suit after the defendant has already disclosed the same conduct to an agency Inspector General is entitled to proceed with the suit and receive a full bounty.”  Continue Reading

House Holds Hearing Addressing Continued Whistleblower Retaliation Within VA

Posted in Government Whistleblowers, News
VA Whistleblowers

On April 13, 2015, the House subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs heard testimony on whistleblower retaliation within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). The hearing focused on the treatment of whistleblowers within the VA, particularly the types and levels of retaliation they experience when reporting problems.

Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner testified that “In several cases, the medical records of whistleblowers have been accessed and information in those records has apparently been used to attempt to discredit the whistleblowers.”   Continue Reading

FBI Whistleblower Featured on CBS Evening News

Posted in FBI Whistleblowers

CBS Evening News ran a story last night on the flawed science of FBI hair analysis. “FBI admits its hair analysis was flawed for decades” featured an interview with FBI Crime Lab Whistleblower Dr. Frederic Whitehurst. Watch this segment below.

Previous coverage of this issue

Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus Adds Members

Posted in News
United-States-Capitol

The Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus announced on April 14, that it is adding two new members. Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) are joining the bipartisan caucus, a group of senators committed to raising awareness of the value and need to protect individuals who call attention to fraud, waste and misconduct.

“Whether it is in the government or private sector, whistleblowers play an invaluable role to keep organizations accountable. Unfortunately, these brave and patriotic citizens often face ridicule and retaliation for their disclosures.  I’m happy that Senators Boozman and Carper are joining our effort on the Whistleblower Protection Caucus to protect whistleblowers and send the message that they should be commended, not condemned, for their work to keep their organization honest,” Grassley said.  Continue Reading

Millions Recovered In DOJ False Claims Act Settlements

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam
medicaid_fraud

The Department of Justice recently announced the settlements, listed below, in False Claims Act cases. The False Claims Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government those who falsely claim federal funds or avoid paying funds owed to the government.  The United States may intervene in and take over the lawsuit.  The False Claims Act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered through the lawsuit. The False Claims Act is one of the most powerful tools to combat government contract fraud.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $23.8 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $15.2 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company to Pay $44 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company has agreed to pay $44 million to settle allegations under the False Claims Act that it knowingly issued insurance policies that were ineligible under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) federal crop insurance program and falsified documents.  Fireman’s Fund, an Allianz SE subsidiary headquartered in Novato, California, provides personal and commercial property insurance throughout the United States. Continue Reading

NWC Releases Press Statement Regarding FBI Crime Lab Errors

Posted in FBI Whistleblowers
Frederic-Whitehurst

The National Whistleblower Center issued the following Press Statement today:

FBI Admission of Crime Lab “Errors” In Hair Cases Vindicates Whistleblower

Washington, D.C. April 20, 2015. Yesterday, the Washington Post published a front-page article reporting that the FBI has finally admitted the FBI Lab’s forensic hair analyses used for decades in state and federal criminal cases were flawed and inaccurate more that ninety percent (90%) of the time.

These systemic problems at the FBI Lab were first raised by FBI whistleblower Dr. Frederic Whitehurst more than 20 years ago.  The latest reviews reported by the Washington Post are also the direct result of Dr. Whitehurst’s initial whistleblower disclosures between 1995-1997.  Although Dr. Whitehurst was highly criticized and subjected to severe retaliation by the FBI for raising these concerns more 20 years ago, yesterday’s admission by the FBI demonstrates that he was right.  Continue Reading

NPR Highlights FBI Whistleblower’s 10-Year Road to Vindication

Posted in FBI Whistleblowers
FBI Whistleblower’s Decade Long Journey to Vindication Featured On NPR

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is under pressure to fix it’s broken whistleblower process. In February 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that whistleblower protections at the FBI are weaker than at any other agency. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing in March and whistleblower advocacy groups are calling for change.

The GAO Report found that the Department of Justice’s FBI whistleblower process leaves FBI whistleblowers without protection from retaliation, and creates a chilling effect. The GAO also found that it could take over 10 years for a simple case to be completed through the FBI process.

FBI employee Robert Kobus is one such whistleblower. In October 2005 Mr. Kobus reported budget and time card fraud in his office. It was a simple case, and fully documented. The retaliation he faced was swift – the FBI stripped him of his duties and literally isolated him by assigning him to work as the only person on a vacant floor amongst 130 empty desks.  Continue Reading

Senators Laud Labor Department’s ‘Burden of Proof’ Interpretation for Whistleblowers

Posted in Department of Labor, News
US_Dept_of_Labor

A bipartisan group of senators commended the Department of Labor, Administrative Review Board’s (ARB) interpretation of federal whistleblower protections provisions, clarifying the statutory burdens of proof in whistleblower cases. In two recent decisions, Fordham v. Fannie Mae, ARB No. 12-061 (Oct. 9, 2014) and Powers v. Union Pacific Railroad, ARB No. 13-034 (Mar. 20, 2105), the ARB found that employees should be allowed to have a fair chance to make their case before having to rebut an employer’s rationale for taking action against the employee.

In a letter to the Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, the senators wrote that the ARB’s interpretation of the requisite standards of proof for both the employee and the employer in both decisions are consistent with the intent of Congress.   Continue Reading

3 Nails in the Coffin of ‘Compliance 1.0′

Posted in Corporate Whistleblowers
2014 was a milestone year for the compliance and ethics field

Originally published at Corporate Counsel on March 17, 2015.

The bulk of 2014 was a milestone year for the compliance and ethics field, marking the demise of the failed “Compliance 1.0” model (compliance as a captive arm of the legal function) and the rise of “Compliance 2.0” (compliance freed from the legal department and positioned for success). Some big developments—such as the now standard separation of compliance from legal in the health care industry, and similar momentum in big banks after a series of record-breaking settlements involving LIBOR rate fixing, mortgage fraud and money laundering—have led to some (now prophetic) media headlines including “Legal Losing Its Grip Over Risk and Compliance,” “Ethics and Compliance Moving Out of the Law Department” and “Report: More Companies Splitting Legal and Compliance.” Several industry surveys have mirrored this momentum.

A careful observer will have noted three key events from 2014 that can be categorized as “nails in the coffin” for the decades-old, fatally flawed Compliance 1.0 model: Continue Reading