Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced legislation aimed to improve whistleblower anonymity. The Enhancing Protections for Whistleblower Anonymity Act focuses on enhancing safety for whistleblowers in terms of identity. Rep. Swalwell states that current law prohibits “only some federal officials from revealing a whistleblower’s identity, but there is no penalty for violations.” The proposed legislation will “impose criminal penalties on any federal official” who purposefully reveals a whistleblower’s identity or provides information that could reveal the identity of a whistleblower. This bill exempts government officials who are already permitted by law to reveal a whistleblower’s identity. Additionally, the bill would let whistleblowers sue “for injunctive relief or monetary damages” if their identities were unlawfully exposed.

Swalwell emphasizes the importance of whistleblowers, stating that they are “critical to rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal conduct, especially as this administration strives to block congressional oversight at every turn.” Swalwell began writing the bill last year in the aftermath of President Trump’s attack on a whistleblower who disclosed information about the president’s conduct in the Ukraine whistleblowing situation.

“Threatening and trying to reveal whistleblowers’ identities is wrong and undercuts long-established policy, endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans for decades, to encourage people to come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. It’s time to stand up against these attacks and strengthen the right of whistleblower anonymity,” said Swalwell.

The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to take testimony from whistleblowers.

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Image by Gage Skidmore