The NWC is pleased to announce that whistleblower hero Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse has finally won a six-year legal battle against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 2005, Ms. Greenhouse blew the whistle on the Army Corps for extensive contractor fraud in which they were awarding secret, non-compete contracts worth billions of dollars to Halliburton’s subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR). Six years later, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. has given its final approval on a settlement that requires the Army Corps to pay Ms. Greenhouse $970,000 in lost wages, compensatory damages, and attorneys fees. Her drawn-out journey is recapped by today’s Washington Post, in a column whose title captures the sentiments of the NWC perfectly—this judicial ruling is indeed “a bittersweet win for a federal whistleblower.”
Ms. Greenhouse also appeared on Democracy Now! yesterday with her attorneys Michael D. Kohn and Stephen M. Kohn.
Ms. Greenhouse fought for six years to shine the light on what she has called “the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed in my career.” Her professional life was put on the line from the minute she testified against the corrupt contracting practices of the Army Corps. After testifying to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Ms. Greenhouse faced such retaliatory tactics as having her performance reviews suddenly downgraded, after years of exemplary reviews. She was removed from her position and stripped of her top-secret authority clearance. For six years, Ms. Greenhouse witnessed first-hand the harsh realities of coming forward as a whistleblower. She states, “I was simply doing my job and protecting the public interest and was retaliated against for doing so.”
Ms. Greenhouse’s attorney Michael D. Kohn issued the following statement about the settlement: “Her courage led to sweeping legal reforms that will forever halt the gross abuse she had the courage to expose. Bunny Greenhouse epitomizes what government service is all about. Bunny Greenhouse is an American hero.”
With the District Court’s final ruling, Ms. Greenhouse now retires at age 67 with full benefits after serving 29 years as a federal employee. But she laments that fighting as a whistleblower has indeed been a “long and emotionally draining experience.” For Bunny Greenhouse, the fight is over, but the memories still remain. She now hopes that her plight will encourage the Administration and Congress to “finally give federal employees the legal rights that they need to protect the public trust.”
We all agree when Ms. Greenhouse says that, “six years to extract justice is too long.”
The NWC rejoices the victory of the whistleblower today, but also takes this moment to reflect upon the lack of strong whistleblower protections for our public servants and encourages you to TAKE ACTION to fully protect federal employees.
*Cho Hwang (a NWC intern) contributed to this posting