National Whistleblower Day

Last year the U.S. Senate declared July 30, 2013 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.”

“In honor of ‘National Whistleblower Appreciation Day’ we call upon the President of the United States, and every public institution in the United States, to publicly celebrate the courage and sacrifices whistleblowers have made to American democracy, and to widely publish the words enacted by our Founding Fathers on July 30, 1778:

That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of ay misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.'” 

The history behind the Founding Fathers’ support of whistleblowers was buried in the records of the
Continental Congress for over 200 years, and was only rediscovered as part of the research behind the book, The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (3rd Ed. 2013, Lyons Press).    Continue Reading Special Offer In Honor of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day

Yesterday, by an unanimous resolution the U.S. Senate declared July 30, 2013 as "National Whistleblower Appreciation Day." The National Whistleblowers Center strongly supports the Senate’s historic action and calls on every American reflect upon the tremendous contributions whistleblowers have made to American democracy, as well as the struggles and sacrifices they have endured.  

The resolution (S.Res.202) not only designated July 30, 2013 as "National Whistleblower Appreciation Day" but it also resolved that the Senate:

(2) ensures that the Federal Government implements the intent of the Founding Fathers, as reflected in the legislation enacted on July 30, 1778, by encouraging each executive agency to recognize "National Whistleblower Appreciation Day" by–   

(A) informing employees, contractors working on behalf of United States taxpayers, and members of the public about the legal rights of citizens of the United States to blow the whistle; and

(B) acknowledging the contributions of whistleblowers to combating waste, fraud, abuse, and violations of laws and regulations in the United States

In a statement celebrating the passage of the "National Whistleblower Appreciation Day" Resolution, NWC Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn issued the following statement:

Continue Reading Senate Establishes “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day”

Resolution Celebrates the Continental Congress’ Historic
Enactment of America’s First Whistleblower Law on July 30, 1778

Washington, D.C. July 29, 2013. Today United States Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced a resolution into the U.S. Senate calling for July 30, 2013 to be celebrated as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.” Over one year ago the NWC’s Board of Director’s urged the U.S. government to set aside July 30th in commemoration of America’s first whistleblower protection law, enacted unanimously at the height of the Revolutionary War by the Continental Congress on July 30, 1778.

A copy of the Continental Congress’ enactment, the history behind Congress’ enactment and a copy of the Senate resolution are linked below.

 In a statement issued today, NWC Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn stated:
“We strongly commend Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democratic Senator Carl Levin for putting partisan differences aside and advocating unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate of ‘National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.’ The Senate Resolution calls attention to the fact that our nation’s Founding Fathers strongly supported whistleblowing, even in time of war, and even when the whistleblower allegations threatened to embarrass high-ranking officials. The action of our Founding Fathers sets a benchmark for evaluating how our current leaders treat whistleblowers.”

Continue Reading Senator Introduces Resolution Establishing National Whistleblower Day

This year, as you are deciding what to give your loved ones, friends, and colleagues for the holidays, why not choose to give something interesting and useful? One of the most powerful gifts you can give is knowledge.

The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself is the best gift you can give an employee.

When you make a $25 or larger donation to the National Whistleblowers Center between today and December 31, 2012, you will receive a copy of The Whistleblower’s Handbook as our gift to you. You will also receive free shipping on any additional copies of The Whistleblower’s Handbook that you order by December 31, 2012. 

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Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC), published an op-ed article in today’s New York Times.The article tells the story of Captain John Grannis, and nine other sailors of the Continental Navy. The full story is contained in The Whistleblower’s Handbook. The actual documents from the Continental Congress are linked here.

These courageous sailors and marines petitioned the Continental Congress to relieve the commander of the Continental Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins. The sailors reported that Hopkins had engaged in misconduct including, the torture of British prisoners of war.

On March, 26, 1777, the Continental Congress accepted the petition and suspended Hopkins as leader of the Navy. he would later be formally discharged.

Hopkins was politically connected, and he retaliated immediately against America’s first whistleblowers. He filed a criminal libel case against the whistleblowers in Rhode Island’s court. Samuel Shaw, a midshipman, and Richard Marven, a third lieutenant, were detained during the proceedings. On July 23, 1778, they pleaded to Congress that they had been “arrested for doing what they then believed and still believe was nothing but their duty.”

Without any recorded dissent, Congress declared:

That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.

Congress did not stop there. It also authorized payment for the legal fees of Marven and Shaw. Kohn calls this act "America’s first whistle-blower-protection law." With the help of attorney William Channing, the whistleblowers won an acquittal.

Kohn points out that today’s America does not go so far in protecting whistleblowers. The Obama Administration is detaining and prosecuting Bradley Manning for allegedly releasing documents to WikiLeaks. It also prosecuted Thomas Drake for disclosing mismanagement of the National Security Administration (NSA) to the Baltimore Sun. Today’s whistleblowers have no protection when they lose their security clearance, and employees of the NSA and CIA are excluded from the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA).

Kohn’s article is a fitting tribute to the First Amendment on the fortieth anniversary of the day the New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Yesterday concluded the 2010 National Whistleblower Assembly. Staff from the National Whistleblowers Center participated in a number of panels on major issues facing the whistleblower community. Richard Renner provided practice tips as part of the know your rights panel, Stephen M. Kohn discussed first amendment protections for doctors at the medical whistleblower workshop and David K. Colapinto presented current rights for FBI employees at the protecting FBI whistleblowers workshop.

Also at the assembly, the Make it Safe Coalition honored UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld with it’s “Tax Whistleblower of the Year Award”. As those who follow our blog know, Mr. Birkenfeld blew the whistle on the largest tax fraud scheme in history, and remains the only banker involved in the scheme to receive a prison sentence. Mr. Birkenfeld’s brother, Douglas Birkenfeld, attended the assembly and accepted the award on his behalf, as Mr. Birkenfeld is currently incarcerated in federal prison. The award presentation is below: