9/25 update: David Colapinto, general counsel of the National Whistleblower Center, spoke about the disputed intelligence community case on NPR and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

Click here for the NPR audio.  

“If you work in the intelligence community you must bring your concern to the inspector general before you can go to Congress,” he says. But an employee at Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, “can go right to [their] member of Congress or the committee that has jurisdiction over housing,” and report their concerns. “Those are two major differences, as we’re seeing play out,” Colapinto says.

Click here for C-SPAN  video.

(The case) is testing the system set up by Congress…It is a failure if they don’t transmit the complaint to congress. it would be the worst possible outcome to have a whistleblower who did everything right, obeyed the law, did not leak to the media, had the complaint verified, and not have it go where congress said it should go.


Whistleblowers from the intelligence community face a different set of rules than other government insiders. The information they have about wrongdoing may be classified. Protection may be limited. Congress should be involved.

David Colapinto, general counsel of  the National Whistleblower Center, explained this and more to The Washington Post  and The Atlantic. The stories were two in an ongoing flood of reporting about the decision by director of national intelligence to withhold details about the Ukraine whistleblower complaint from Congress.

Colapinto called this move unprecedented and said it could further erode trust in the intelligence community.

 “The system of whistleblowing will fail in the intelligence community if that complaint is not transmitted to Congress,” he said. “To have a whistleblower complaint verified as credible and urgent and not end up where it’s supposed to go would be the worst possible outcome. There would be a crisis in confidence in the intelligence community.”
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Much of the $234 billion laundered through the Danske Bank started in Russia and ended in the U.S, as dollars, a whistleblower told the European Parliament in November.

Rep. McHenry

Now, a growing number of U.S. investigators want to know more. Last week, the heads of two congressional committees asked Deutsche Bank for information related to its lending practices and its role in a series of money laundering scandals, according to several news reports. Federal agencies are asking questions too.

The House is preparing to investigate Deutsche Bank’s handling of suspicious transactions from Denmark’s Danske Bank, according to a report in Politico.  Danske Bank is now is under investigation in relation to a massive, international money laundering scheme involving its Estonian branch banks.
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Renowned Oversight Expert Criticizes Interference with Russia InvestigationIn an op-ed for The Hill, former National Whistleblower Center (NWC) executive director and widely regarded oversight expert Kris Kolesnik takes members of Congress to task for blurring the lines between campaigning and governing.

Kolesnik, also a former high-level staffer for Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), states, “people who come to Congress need to understand that, once you get here, you’re obliged to govern. The campaigning is over.” Given Kolesnik’s record, when he speaks on important oversight issues, all should listen.


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The National Whistleblower Center, as a member of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to the House of Representatives with a set of recommendations for the bipartisan bill, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, the bill aims to improve the workplace environment for Congressional staff.

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On July 27th, 2017, Senator Grassley gave a stirring speech on the heroism of whistleblowers as a Keynote Speaker at the NWC’s National Whistleblower Day celebration on Capitol Hill. The Senator thanked whistleblowers for their service to the American people, emphasizing, “… Whistleblowers are patriots and heroes … We owe a great debt to you—the whistleblowers. We have a responsibility to follow your example and keep fighting for responsible business and accountable government.” Watch the video of his speech.

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Washington, D.C. December 1, 2016.   The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittees on Government Operations and Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules will hold a hearing today on proposed changes to the appropriations process that would have a major impact on existing whistleblower laws.

The hearing, “Restoring the Power of the Purse: Legislative Options,” will review H.R. 5499—The Agency Accountability Act—a bill that would restrict or prohibit executive agencies from using monies obtained as sanctions to directly pay whistleblowers the compensation they are owed under existing whistleblower reward laws.  The Act would impact all federal spending financed by fees, fines, and penalties currently administered by federal agencies, and instead require that Congressional appropriations approve this spending.


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The Washington Examiner reports that Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., will investigate whether  a letter to the House Financial Services subcommittee constituted interference with congressional oversight or an attempt to intimidate future witnesses appearing before the panel. The letter that sparked the investigation came from John Dowd, a criminal defense lawyer representing Liza Strong, the Consumer

Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden issued the following press statement today in regard to the National Intelligence Agency’s plans to implement continuous monitoring of security clearance holders and it’s impact on whistleblowers who communicate with members of Congress:

Grassley, Wyden Press for Answers on Continuous Monitoring of
Whistleblower and Legislative Branch Communications

            WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden are pressing the Director of National Intelligence to explain in detail how the intelligence community plans to implement continuous monitoring of security clearance holders without undermining legal protections for whistleblowers or constitutional protections for the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch.

In a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Grassley and Wyden noted that any monitoring within the executive branch must preserve the rights and confidentiality of whistleblowers when making protected disclosures to Congress or Inspectors General.

The senators wrote, “If whistleblower communications with Inspectors General or with Congress are routinely monitored and conveyed to agency leadership, it would defeat the ability to make protected disclosures confidentially, which is especially important in an intelligence community context.  Truly meaningful whistleblower protections need to include the option of a legitimate channel for confidential disclosures.  Inspectors General and Congress provide such an option.  However, if potential whistleblowers believe that disclosing waste, fraud or abuse means putting a target on their backs for retaliation, they will be intimidated into silence.  The failure to provide such protected alternatives could result in whistleblowers choosing to make unprotected disclosures in public forums, with potential negative consequences for national security.”
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Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to the CEO of KBR, one of the nation’s largest government contractors, requesting documents relating to the company’s treatment of potential whistleblowers seeking