Rebuffing an open letter from the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) asking for a face-to-face meeting, and brushing aside the potential consequences for the best whistleblower law ever enacted, three organizations filed a petition yesterday challenging the False Claims Act (FCA). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), OMB Watch and the Government Accountability Project (GAP) filed the petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. The case is ACLU v. Holder, Case No. 09-2086.

On March 28, 2011, the three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit rejected the ACLU, OMB Watch and GAP challenge to the “seal” provision of the FCA. The FCA provides a reward program for whistleblowers who help the government recover money that companies obtain by fraud. The FCA provides for a temporary “seal” that shields the case from public disclosure while the government investigates the case to decide if it will intervene. The seal serves the government by preventing the fraudsters from getting wind of the government investigation. If companies knew the government was trying to prove they engaged in fraud, they might start destroying evidence that the government could later use to prove that fraud. The seal also protects the whistleblower from retaliation while the seal is in force. All FCA seals are temporary and will eventually be lifted so the public can see the claims made and the government’s decision on whether to intervene. If a seal last for longer than sixty (60) days, it must be approved by the Court which considers whether it is in the public interest.

After the March 28 panel decision, the NWC issued an open letter to the ACLU, OMB Watch and GAP. The open letter asked for a face-to-face meeting with the the decision makers from these groups to discuss whether proceeding with this case was really in the public interest. The NWC letter warned that the challenge to the FCA threatened the right of whistleblowers to file claims confidentially and could  undermine America’s “most effective whistleblower law.”


Continue Reading Groups spurn NWC and file petition against FCA

A few federal judges have been reluctant to follow a provision in the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) law that allows corporate fraud whistleblowers to have a de novo trial in federal court. One judge in Maryland ordered a SOX case back to the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) saying that the de novo provision was “absurd.”  Yesterday, I filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals explaining why this is the law, and why it is not “absurd” to follow the law.


Continue Reading Brief: It’s not “absurd” to follow SOX law.