On January 28, 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a highly controversial amendment to the stimulus bill to include whistleblower protection for federal employees. Although endorsed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her floor speech, this amendment faces opposition in the U.S. Senate.
The National Whistleblowers Center is making three experienced whistleblower advocates/attorneys, Stephen M. Kohn, David K. Colapinto, and Michael D. Kohn, are available for interviews to discuss:
* Why whistleblower protections are critical to ensure oversight and accountability in Stimulus spending;
* The conclusions of a PricewaterhouseCoopers international audit of 5400 companies which found that whistleblowers were the single most important source for detecting corporate fraud;
* Department of Justice findings that whistleblowers were responsible for 67% of all civil fraud recoveries obtained by the United States.
Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi issued a press release expressing her support for the whistleblower amendment to the stimulus bill. Speaker Pelosi stated that "It is inconceivable that the people’s business had been conducted for so long without ‘whistleblower’ protections to encourage every public employee to do the right thing."
The Speaker's press release is encouraging as we gear up for a fight in the Senate. Please contact your Senators IMMEDIATELY and urge them to include the same federal whistleblower protections in their version of the bill that the House passed.Continue Reading...
Just minutes ago the House of Representatives approved the Platts-Van Hollen amendment to the stimulus package granting whistleblower protection to federal employees and contractors. Thanks to your action, House members recognized the critical role whistleblowers play in oversight and accountability and the House has approved excellent whistleblower provisions contained in the former H.R. 985. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote with no audible opposition.
Federal employee whistleblower protections are part of the entire Stimulus Package (H.R. 1), but our work is not done. Now the battleground shifts to the Senate.
Take Action! Contact your Senator and tell them to protect federal employees!
This is one of the most important legislative battles ever for whistleblowers.
Together, good government allies have been fighting for nine years to achieve meaningful whistleblower protection for ALL federal employees. With the overwhelming support of the House and over 260 public interest organizations on record supporting these protections, this is our best chance and we have the strength to overcome the opposition. We must seize the moment!
Act Now! Protect taxpayer dollars!
If you have emailed your Senator now is the time to follow up. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and everyone else you know to contact their Senators. Then call your Senators’ offices and let them know that whistleblower protections are essential for oversight and accountability of federal spending. Point out how national security workers need whistleblower protections, including jury trials, as much as any other federal employee. Tell your Senators that the bill will protect both national security and whistleblower rights by requiring an award of whistleblower remedies whenever the government prohibits a whistleblower from using the evidenced needed to prove a case.
Now is the time to do everything you can. Please consider a personal visit to your Senators’ offices today. This could be our only opportunity to obtain real protection for federal employees who risk their careers to report waste, fraud, and abuse of your taxpayer dollars.
The dawning of a new administration is upon us, and with it comes an opportunity for whistleblower rights supporters to make their voices heard, and to achieve real changes to our ineffective whistleblower laws.
Over the past couple of years, Congress has inched towards reforming whistleblower laws for government and corporate employees, but the constant threat of veto from the Bush Administration tempered their political willpower. Now, with Obama (who has consistently supported whistleblower protection legislation) moving into the White House, as well as major concerns with transparency in doling out government bailout money AND the $50 billion Madoff scandal, we have a big chance to get the attention of Congress and new administration officials. But, nothing will happen unless we can show that the American people support protecting government and corporate whistleblowers who come forward to report illegal activity at work. We need you to get involved!!!
Here are 3 ways you can help fight for whistleblowers this inaugural season:
1. Sign the National Whistleblowers Center petition! The NWC is sponsoring a petition urging members of Congress to enact a national whistleblower protection law. Please join the thousands of whistleblower supporters have signed on!
2. Volunteer at Inaugural Events This Weekend! The NWC is looking for volunteers to collect signatures for our petition in support of strong whistleblower legislation (see #1 above). We are planning to petition at Inaugural events on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. For more information, call the NWC at 202-342-1903 or email Advocacy Director Lindsey Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Vote for Whistleblower Protection! The Obama Transition Team website is requesting that Americans vote on the issues that are most important to them. Whistleblower Protection has been steadily moving up the ranks - let's get it to the top of the list!
On Thursday, the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing (HCPF) cancelled a policy prohibiting employees from making secret recordings in the office. Governor Bill Ritter, who initially endorsed the new policy, reversed his earlier decision and advised the department to cancel the policy. The Governor should be commended for this decision. By following Federal case law, which has supported the use of secret recordings in whistleblower cases, Governor Ritter re-affirmed the rights of all American workers.
HCPF executives implemented the anti-taping policy in response to an ongoing whistleblower case. Althought the state Department of Labor and Employment ruled the whistleblower was "wrongfully terminated", Governor Ritter has decided to support HCPF instead of the whistleblower. While we applaud the Governor's decision to uphold the law and oppose the anti-taping policy, now he must make another important decision. The Governor should support oversight and accountability by disciplining HCPF's directors and defending a Colorado citizen who had the courage to report fraud.
For more on the Governor's decision to oppose the anti-taping policy please see the Denver Post editorial here.
Tonight I celebrated with members of Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). These employees of the U.S. Department of Labor held a party to welcome the end of the current administration, led in their department by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. So here is their cake, saying Ciao to Chao. They served this cake on the very day that the Senate heard testimony from President-elect Barack Obama's nominee, Rep. Hilda Solis.
Ironically, employees of the Department of Labor know all too well the stuggles working Americans face all over the country. Perhaps that is why they were eager to sign the National Whistleblower Center's petition to Support Oversight and Accountability, Enact Whistleblower Legislation Now. Over two dozen signed up on the spot.
On January 4th, the Denver Post published an editorial on Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's actions in the case of a Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Finance (HCPF) whistleblower. HCPF administers taxpayer funds to recipients of Medicare and low-income children. In December, the State Personnel Board found that HCPF accountant Annmarie Maynard was “wrongly fired” for blowing the whistle on the department’s attempt to hide $8 million it over-collected from the government. Governor Ritter is appealing the personnel board’s ruling that he should consider disciplining the executive and deputy directors of HCPF for violating the Whistleblower Act. The Governor is also appealing a state Department of Labor and Employment ruling that Maynard was wrongly fired.
The Governor’s attempt to defend the department instead of protecting the rights of state workers and taxpayers is extremely troubling. However, HCPF ‘s new policy could set a dangerous precedent for the rights of all American workers. This policy, implemented by executive director Julie Henner, prevents HCPF employees from making secret recordings in the office. In response to the policy, NWC president Stephen Kohn stated, “Many red flags go up here, any rule that restricts [taping] does great harm.” While Governor Ritter’s office argues the policy protects client confidentiality, the article correctly notes that only the posting of the tape outside the office, not simply making the recording, would jeopardize confidentiality. The case is currently being appealed. The Governor and his appointees have failed to protect Colorado’s employees. It’s time for Colorado’s judges to uphold the law and defend whistleblower protections.
To read the article please click here.