Whistleblower Legislation

From The Washington Post:

Elijah E. Cummings, a Democratic congressman from Maryland who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died early Thursday morning at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns

by Elizabeth C. Tippett

from The Conversation 

It has somehow become sort of normal to use the workplace to protest social issues unrelated to the job itself. This was something almost unheard of even five years ago.

Liz Tippett

The latest example came on Sept. 20 as more than 1,000 Amazon employees staged a walkout over the retailer’s “inaction” on climate change. In recent months, there has also been unrest among Walmart employees over gun sales and protests by Google and Microsoft workers over military use of their software. And of course, there’s Colin Kaepernick and other professional athletes who used the field – a football player’s office – to protest racialized police violence.

The workplace used to be the very last place you would want to bring attention to social issues, however important. That’s because the office or factory isn’t a democracy where activism is protected. To a workplace scholar like me, what’s really interesting is how employees are increasingly willing to undertake this risky form of protest – and how employers are adapting.
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Not all the recent whistleblower news from Capitol Hill involves the president and the Ukraine.  The House last week passed a bill that would add a whistleblower protection provision to rules governing a national accounting oversight board. And on Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), introduced a bill that advocates say will protect whistleblowers who report financial crimes internally before going to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

That bill would address the impact of last year’s Supreme Court decision in Digital Realty Trust Inc. v. Somers.  The ruling limited protected whistleblowing to disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), leaving those who report internaly vulnerable, according to Stephen Kohn, chair of the National Whistleblower Center. 
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Bulletproof vests that don’t work. Russian money laundering. US tax cheats with Swiss bank accounts. No-bid, sweetheart government contracts.

Once a year, whistleblowers and their supporters gather to remind each other why they risked so much to expose wrongdoing. This year’s National Whistleblower Day event will be Tuesday, July 30. It will be broadcast live from Capitol Hill on Facebook. It is one of several events and panels underway this week as part of the annual Whistleblower Summit.

From the National Whistleblower Center:

National Whistleblower Day will commemorate the 241st anniversary of America’s first whistleblower law, and celebrate the contributions of whistleblowers to democracy.The event will feature speakers including whistleblowers, lawmakers, and other public officials.

More from the NWC on some of the speakers, with video from past events:


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6/27 Update:  The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) will seek access to the trial of accused whistleblower David McBride, according to Commonwealth lawyers, who say the national broadcaster has expressed an interest in influencing orders affecting the trial.

Mr McBride, 55, was greeted outside the ACT Supreme Court this morning by a group of protesters supporting his case, holding signs with statements like “protect whistleblowers, defend democracy”.


The recent arrest of an Australian whistleblower and police raids on journalists’ offices have triggered movement toward stronger whistleblower protection laws in that country.  Another case in the Australian news is a reminder that whistleblowers often give up beloved careers to expose wrongdoing.

In one a recent case, a federal judge was quoted calling Australia’s whistleblower laws “technical, obtuse and intractable.”

From The Guardian:

Transparency campaigners have welcomed attorney general Christian Porter’s announcement that whistleblower protections will be strengthened, while urging him to establish a new whistleblower protection authority, create a compensation scheme and shield a broader range of people.

Porter on Friday flagged his intention to overhaul public sector whistleblower protections, in an attempt to make the system simpler and more accessible to government employees.

More from The New York Times on David William McBride, who is charged with leaking classified military documents to Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalists. McBride admits to leaking documents that led to a story on Australian special forces in Afghanistan.


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In the course of her research into fraud and white-collar crime, Kelly Richmond Pope comes across a lot of whistleblower stories. The DePaul University accountant and business professor said she couldn’t understand why they were treated so poorly. So, she did a TED talk about it. Now she knows even more stories. Pope talked to the Whistleblower Protection Blog in May.  A forensic accountant, she has experience in insurance fraud investigations and fraud risk management projects. TR

Kelly Richmond Pope

 Q. What cases are you following?

It seems like there is a new story every day.  Behind every fraud story, which is my area of research, there is a whistleblower. What you may call a whistleblower case, I may call a fraud case. If we are hearing about it in the news, that means someone somewhere told something.

Q. You talked about how whistleblowers are looked at as tattle-tales, not as heroes. Do you think people still have that attitude?

Absolutely. I think it is still going on. The whistleblower dilemma is about how we as a society treat these brave people. It is very hard to come up against the system. Right now, we are hearing more about the whistleblowers at Boeing. I would say 95 percent of the world is impacted by the airline industry. So, we want those people to come forward with information. We look at that as having a direct impact on our health and safety.
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The United Nations has named March 3, Sunday, as World Wildlife Day.This year’s theme is “Life below water,” and events took pace Friday at the United Nations in New York and around the globe.

They include shoreline trash collection in British Columbia, a photo contest on the shores of  Lake Victoria in Uganda and a youth art competition. Siem Reap, Cambodia will host a “day of exciting wildlife awareness activities and game for kids.” With the aquatic theme, the event’s film festival offers movies on whales, overfishing, penguins and pollution. Find trailers for many on the event’s video channel.

National Whistleblower Center and the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) offered a webinar Tuesday on using whistleblowers address wildlife crimes like poaching, overfishing, habitat destruction and trafficking. The center’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program partners with conservation and anti-trafficking groups to expand and strengthen wildlife whistleblower programs. They see whistleblower rewards as a powerful but underused tool that could bolster the enforcement of wildlife protection laws.


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Whistleblower Protection in EU

The proposed European Parliament directive on whistleblower protection could make it more difficult for individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing, according to a coalition of transparency and anti-corruption groups.

At issue is a provision that requires employees to report potential crimes and fraud internally before going to regulators and law enforcement.

A letter signed by a range of groups calls on the EU to protect the “free flow of information necessary for responsible exercises of institutional authority.” Disclosures to law enforcement and regulatory agencies provide a “safety net for protecting the public interest and the public’s right to know when organisations are corrupt or fail to take responsibility,” they write.

If this mandatory internal disclosure regime stands, the directive will have abandoned responsible Europeans who raise concerns appropriately to their employers through their supervisors or normal management channels of communication, who disclose information to competent authorities who have the power and mandate to address wrongdoing, or who provide information to the journalists who investigate and report in the public interest. They will suffer. Europe will suffer.


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By 

On January 30, 2019, Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.R. 864). This bipartisan, groundbreaking legislation enhances the ability of informants worldwide to detect and report wildlife crimes. It also strengthens the laws criminalizing trafficking.

In a joint press release, both representatives recognized the importance of halting poachers, traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations—all of which are responsible for exacerbating the global extinction crisis. Furthermore, as Congressman Garamendi points out, “Our bipartisan bill advances American leadership in tackling the global wildlife trafficking and poaching crisis at no cost to the American taxpayer.”
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If poachers and wildlife trafficking networks operate like international criminal syndicates, why not treat them that way? That’s one approach outlined in a bill reintroduced in Congress today designed to bolster efforts to use whistleblower rewards to stop wildlife crime. 

The bill aims to address problems with existing wildlife whistleblower programs that were identified in May by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It expands on existing whistleblower provisions and calls for new rules and the authority to enforce them.

The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act was reintroduced by Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska – who calls himself an avid sportsman — and California Democrat John Garamendi, who describes himself a conservationist and outdoorsman.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) each currently have the option to reward whistleblowers who expose poaching, trafficking and other wildlife crimes. But, the 2018 GAO audit found that agencies’ programs are underused and inefficiently implemented.

The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act would give more muscle to existing programs. The bill also would require that penalties and fine from prosecutions be redistributed to wildlife conservation efforts.


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