In 1968, Vietnam War veteran Ron Ridenhour heard disturbing stories from fellow soldiers about a massacre that occurred during the war. Multiple first-hand accounts across platoons corroborated that American soldiers had been ordered to destroy a village and kill all its civilian inhabitants. After hearing about the massacre, Ridenhour wrote a letter to Congress urging for an investigation. The event Ridenhour exposed is now known as the My Lai Massacre.
“What would you do if you were a young professional working at your dream job, and you discover that your employer was lying to the public, promoting a disastrous foreign war, and steadily expanding a weapons program that threatened to destroy human life on earth?”
Daniel Ellsberg faced this question himself multiple times in his life. He posed the same question to the audience during his April 10th talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and in his new book, The Doomsday Machine. Ellsberg continued that he believes there are currently thousands of government employees looking at the prospect of nuclear war, whether or not they recognized this sentence as applicable to them.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a big decision for whistleblowers in Bailets v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, 2018 WL 1516785 (Pa. 2018). The Court ruled that noneconomic damages are compensable under Pennsylvania’s whistleblower law.
Ralph Bailets was a former Manager of Financial Systems and Reporting with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. During his tenure, he became concerned about the government contractor Ciber Inc., which was politically-connected to leaders of the Commission. When competing for one infrastructure project, Ciber offered the most expensive bid, yet still was chosen for the contract. As Ciber struggled to perform the contract, Bailets took the issue to his supervisor. Bailet’s supervisor initially warned him that Ciber had friends in high places, and later advised colleagues that Bailet “should be kept on a short lease.” He was fired shortly thereafter.
In his testimony before Congress last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg received tough questions from members of Congress about wildlife trafficking and the illegal ivory trade on his two-billion user social media site.
At the Joint Senate Committee Hearing, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) referenced a recent Time article examining illicit wildlife crime on Facebook, stating, “wildlife traffickers are continuing to use Facebook tools to advertise illegal sales of protected animal parts.” Zuckerberg responded, “we’re going to have more than 20,000 people at the company working on security and content review.”
A delegation from countries including India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, visited the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) today to learn about U.S. whistleblower reward laws and their role in cracking down on fraud both domestically and internationally. The visit was facilitated by the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of State.
In a recent interview with the AARP, Attorney General Sessions took a strong stance against Medicare fraud. Sessions stated that it’s time to consider taking Medicare fraud as seriously as the war on drugs (certainly an issue Attorney General Sessions believes to be of paramount importance).
Medicare fraud is a serious issue. It is estimated that 10% of Medicare funds are lost to fraud and waste, totaling approximately $16.2 billion. This suggests that billions of dollars, which should be directed to funding health care for our seniors, are instead going to fraudsters taking advantage of American taxpayers and the elderly.
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice officially dismissed their appeal of case Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.), marking a big win for IRS whistleblowers. Below is a statement from the whistleblowers’ attorneys.
The law firms of Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, PC (ZMF); Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto (KKC) and Robert Amsel, Esq. are pleased to announce today a key victory for tax whistleblowers with the filing of a joint stipulation for dismissal of the government’s appeal in the cases of Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.). The case was scheduled for oral argument on April 9, 2018 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It had pitted the U.S. Department of Justice and IRS against two whistleblowers whose information has led to $54.131 million in criminal penalties and civil forfeitures awarded against a major Swiss bank. The DOJ and IRS were arguing that the tax whistleblower law did not apply to criminal tax cases that resulted in payments of fines and civil forfeitures.
Will Kramer knows what it means to be a whistleblower. As a former investigative staffer in the Senate, Kramer has ample experience working with whistleblowers. Later while serving as a health safety consultant, Kramer became one himself when he uncovered deeply disturbing conditions and improper handling of hazardous waste at several Greif Inc. plants. Kramer reported potential health, safety, environmental and securities violations to government regulators, members of Congress and the news media after the plants failed to address these issues. Now, as a law student, Kramer has written an important piece on the whistleblower mindset.
National Whistleblower Center (NWC), as a member organization of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to support the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (H.R. 4924) which passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support last month. The Act, which seeks to improve workplace protections for Congressional staff, has gained broad public support due to the #MeToo movement.
This week the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) met with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) General Counsel Peter Davidson and Senior Counsel James Uthmeier to discuss the implementation of whistleblower laws in their agency. NWC was represented by Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn, Managing Director of the Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program Scott Hajost, and Co-Chairperson of the Board Dr. Gina Green.