The news from Transparency International is not good.

This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

Our analysis also shows corruption is more pervasive in countries where big money can flow freely into electoral campaigns and where governments listen only to the voices of wealthy or well-connected individuals.

Corruption is difficult to quantify, so the worldwide anti-corruption group ranks 180 countries and territories by their “perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people.”

It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43. Similar to previous years, the data shows that despite some progress, a majority of countries are still failing to tackle public sector corruption effectively. 

The report takes a close look at money and politics this year and concludes that the analysis “suggests that reducing big money in politics and promoting inclusive political decision-making are essential to curb corruption.”

There was good news too.


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The New Yorker declares it the year of the whistleblower, and we offer some of our popular posts of 2019.

From The New Yorker:

This year, as one scandal after another played out in the news, it was easy to become overwhelmed. Amid all the noise, there’s been a common theme in many of the reports—the increased profile and significance of whistle-blowers. It’s hard to think of another recent period when the act of whistle-blowing has had such a consequential impact on our politics and culture.

From the Whistleblower Protection Blog:

Ukraine whistleblower
  • Can the Ukraine call whistleblower remain anonymous? And, who is obligated to protect his or her anonymity?
  • The journalist and the whistleblower. Every journalist who has ever worked with a whistleblower knows these are fraught relationships.
  • Remember when the whistleblower complaint was seen as “hearsay”? Turns out secondhand whistleblower “reports are 47.7% more likely than firsthand reports to be substantiated by management, which suggests that management views many secondhand reports as credible.“
Climate Corruption Campaign
  • NWC announces new program; Only company insiders would know of climate change-related risks concealed from shareholders, the IRS and the public. The campaign will help these insiders secure confidential whistleblower status.
  • More here. Can whistleblowers save the Amazon rainforest?


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Today the National Whistleblower Center launches its Climate Corruption Campaign. I would like to share why I believe this campaign and the whistleblowers who will be at the heart of it are so badly needed.

For those fossil fuel and industrial logging company executives who may be reading this and be familiar with the corruption I describe: I encourage you to contact the National Whistleblower Center on our secure intake form and engage with us in a conversation about becoming a confidential whistleblower!

Climate Emergency

Last month, 11,000 scientists from around the world came together to issue a clarion call: “planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” They predicted that “untold suffering” would ensue without an “immense increase” in effort to address the climate crisis.

I have always believed we are an intelligent species, quite capable of rescuing our civilization from the miseries of runaway climate change. The impressive gains in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the past few decades have only reinforced this belief. We now have the technology we need to get us most of the way to solving the climate puzzle and we have the ingenuity to take us the rest of the way.

Yet just last week, the Global Carbon Project released a report finding that in 2019, despite impressive progress with clean energy, global fossil fuel emissions had increased for the third straight year. Meanwhile a blizzard of studies strengthened the links between rising carbon emissions from fossil fuels, deforestation and other sources and the intensification of fires, floods and other extreme weather events as well as rapid ice melt on the world’s glaciers.

The urgent need for action is clear. We must not only bear down on proven strategies like rapidly deploying wind and solar energy. We also must finally come to grips with what is happening inside the companies producing fossil fuels. (I will write at a later date about coming to grips with the illegal timber trade.)


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“I should really tackle that vacuum closet,” Siobhan O’Connor told herself when her boss, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone, was out of town.

HIdden inside, she found a thick binder. It included documents from pending litigation charging priests with sexual assault. Many were still in their jobs. Last summer, she leaked the list to a local television station.

It took not one, but two whistleblowers to oust Malone, who resigned on Wednesday after evidence emerged that he was covering up for abusive priests.

O’Conner shared her story on NPR this morning.

I’ve been a Catholic all my life…I remember thinking that I was certain this was necessary. This truth had to come out  for the good of our Catholic community. But I did struggle with the knowledge that I would be betraying my bishop.

She also knew her actions would impact her life.

But I remember thinking that, if I don’t do something, it will it change my life in a far graver way. I could never move past this if I were to be aware of this  and walked away without doing something. I’m so grateful I did because I have had this lasting peace ever since then.


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As part of our #GivingTuesday campaign this year, the National Whistleblower Center is highlighting the stories of several whistleblowers who spoke at the 2019 National Whistleblower Day celebration.

Sherron Watkins, Enron whistleblower

Sherron Watkins is the former Enron Vice President who wrote a now infamous memo in the summer of 2001 to then-CEO Kenneth Lay warning him about improper accounting methods.

At the time, Enron was one of the largest corporations in the U.S. and a giant in the energy-trading and utilities field. Fortune had named it “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six consecutive years. However, Watkins’ memo revealed that the company’s finances were sustained by systemic accounting fraud and corruption.

Enron was forced to declare bankruptcy in late 2001, and she was called to testify before both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate about the accounting irregularities that she had found in the financial statements. 
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The Inspector General (IG) of the Intelligence Community, Michael K. Atkinson, calls IGs “first responders.”  In his semi-annual report to Congress, he writes:

As so-called first responders, Inspectors General must act swiftly and appropriately when – through audits, investigations, inspections, or reviews – possible wrongdoing is revealed. They must identify, stop, or correct the problem, and in the process,  they may need to alert those who can assist in the response, whether it be Congress, law enforcement authorities, or others.

He goes on to write that, like all ‘first responders, his team is dependent “upon those who first raise an alarm.” Often, whistleblowers are the first people to note waste or possible wrongdoing.


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This weekend, the Secretary of the Navy gave up his job after a dispute with President Donald Trump over plans to penalize a Navy SEAL charged with war crimes.

New York Times reporter Dave Philipps, who wrote about the case in April, noted “The biggest story in a war crimes case isn’t always the crime itself. Sometimes what the crime reveals about the culture and inner workings of a military unit is the real headline.”

That was what he thought when he learned that Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, the head of a Navy SEAL platoon, was charged with murdering civilians in Iraq. War crimes are easy to cover up, he wrote in a Times Insider column, where reporters share how they got the story.

So why had a popular chief who was almost eligible for retirement been turned in by several men in his own platoon for stabbing a captive teenager to death and gunning down civilians, including a young girl, with a sniper rifle?”

Philipps made a lot of calls but no one in the platoon would talk to him. Then, someone gave him more than 400 pages of confidential documents from the Navy’s criminal investigation. The headline on this story: Navy SEALS Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief For War Crimes. 


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As part of our #GivingTuesday campaign this year, the National Whistleblower Center is highlighting the stories of several whistleblowers who spoke at the 2019 National Whistleblower Day celebration.

Eugene “Gene” Ross is a former Bear Stearns employee who uncovered the Amerindo Investment Advisor fraud in September 2004.

The principals of Amerindo – Alberto Vilar and Gary Tanaka – misappropriated at least $5 million from a client and made false and misleading statements. In November 2008, they were convicted for defrauding investors.

Gene was a witness for the Department of Justice and testified at the trial; an internal memo he wrote documenting the fraud was also used as evidence.

Because Gene blew the whistle, Vilar and Tanaka went to prison. The Amerindo victims got most of their money back. Without him, none of this would have happened.

But his honesty came at a price – Gene was heavily retaliated against by Bear Stearns. He was chastised, fired, and sued. In 2010, he was forced to declare personal bankruptcy.


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On December 3, the National Whistleblower Center will once again launch its end of year fundraising campaign by participating in #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that is fueled by the power of social media and harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations worldwide to encourage people to donate to

Federal employees who face retaliation for blowing the whistle have an option for redress: the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

The only problem is — there’s currently no one on the board and their hasn’t been a quorum since 2016. It has a backlog of more than 2,000 cases and a record of siding with the boss.

The MSPB, whose three board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, reviews the whistleblower cases of federal employees and makes the final determination. Somebody has to have the back of the federal employees who have been marching into the Capitol to testify each day.  A piece in Mother Jones talks about how recent concerns over whistleblower protection have highlighted the role of the board — and the problem of not having one.

When it’s working, the MSPB protects whistleblowers who reveal wrongdoings in the management of most federal agencies, covering more than 2 million civilian federal employees. The board was created in 1979 to address retaliation against whistleblowers. When whistleblowers were demoted, stripped of responsibilities, or fired, they were able to turn to the three-member board of the MSPB for intervention. Recent members of the board have been labor lawyers with experience in government.
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