Government Whistleblowers

Now that the impeachment of President Trump and Senate trial have come to a close, it is time for those of us who fight for the rights of whistleblowers to take stock. Given the turbulent events of the past few months, how can the National Whistleblower Center ensure that future would-be whistleblowers know that they will be supported if they step forward to hold wrongdoers accountable?

On the bright side, we have had many teachable moments that serve as a foundation for building a movement for new whistleblower protections and a stronger democracy. NWC has appeared regularly in the media, at conferences and in Congress in the past several months to defend the anonymous whistleblower’s rights to confidentiality and to explain why protecting whistleblowers is critical to democracy and the rule of law. We have communicated important nuances of whistleblower protection, such as the value of second-hand evidence and the reasons why investigators do not reject whistleblower evidence based on speculation about motive.

That said, for the first time in U.S. history, a President openly threatened the safety of a whistleblower and called for the exposure of the whistleblower’s confidential identity. Prominent allies in Congress and in the media joined this campaign of intimidation and retaliation. Although such retaliation and witness intimidation may not be prosecutable, it is nonetheless bad for our democracy.
Continue Reading It’s time to build a movement for stronger whistleblower protections

The debate over whistleblower protection shifted to the impeachment trial, where another attempt was made to reveal the name of a person some think is the Ukraine Whistleblower.But, an important disclosure didn’t get much attention during the partisan sparring at this week’s House Oversight Committee hearing on whistleblower protections.

The Department of Defense is rejecting

  • A round up of recent news begins with a link to a new piece in The Hill by the founders of the NWC. They ask “(N)ow that the impeachment case is clearly headed to a Senate trial, what will become of the whistleblower?”
  • Time magazine declared public servants the “Guardians of the Year.” Whistleblowers expect blowback. But paranoia about a “deep state” conspiracy has brought much wrath upon those professionals. Previously they were seen, at worst, as bureaucratic or boring. So, a tribute is in order.

There are 363,000 federal workers in the greater Washington, D.C., area. In the first week of September, history turned in the office of one of them. The intelligence analyst who blew the whistle on President Donald Trump had just gotten off the phone with the Inspector General’s office.

The piece quotes NWC chair Stephen Kohn on how the intelligence community statutes were designed to protect both classified information and the whistleblower.

“That’s what’s so significant about the Ukrainian case,” says whistle-blower attorney Stephen Kohn. “Congress specifically said, If you want to be protected under this law, you raise your concerns this way.”

Continue Reading Public servants, questionable pork and a reading list

Nearly half of 14,000 federal employees surveyed said they had witnessed or experienced a prohibited personnel practice while on the job in 2016, including rules protecting whistleblowers.

The percentage of employees aware of violations jumped to 46 percent in 2016 from 34 percent in 2010, according to a new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board.

The report notes that perceptions of reprisal for whistleblowing nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016, from 8.1 percent to 14.3.

The report notes: “Employees need to believe that they can safely disclose wrongdoing, and this is less likely to occur if they believe they have seen others experience retaliation for it, or if they feel that disclosures they made in the past led to retaliation by agency officials.”

Continue Reading Growing number of federal employees report increase in discrimination and whistleblower reprisals

It’s Time for Facebook to be Sanctioned for Misleading Shareholders and the Public About Terror and Hate Speech on its Website 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now has all the information it needs to sanction Facebook for its dishonesty about terror and hate content on its website, thanks to a petition filed by a whistleblower working with the National Whistleblower Center (NWC). Today, the Associated Press published an explosive story describing and confirming the key findings in the petition. 
Continue Reading NWC’s Whistleblower Files Petition To Sanction Facebook For Terror and Hate Content

A former White House security officer has denied he was under pressure from Trump administration superiors to approve security clearances, according to reports of his interview with Congressional investigators earlier this week.

His comments are a response to charges levied by Tricia Newbold, a White House staffer who in March reported security clearance problems to Congress. White House officials overruled security staff and granted clearances to 25 employees, she told the House committee.     

 From The New York Times:

Carl Kline, the former director of the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee this week that he had overruled the recommendations of his staff and approved security clearances for White House officials on his own authority, and denied that President Trump or anyone else had directed him to do it.
Continue Reading Former White House boss denies claims of security clearance whistleblower

For International Women’s Day, a few whistleblowers.

From the NWC:

Dr. Tommie (“Toni”) G. Savage

Savage had a distinguished 20 year career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’, until she blew the whistle on the  fraud she discovered.

Jane Turner

Turner successful fought her removal and won a historic victory for all FBI whistleblowers before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.She challenged her retaliation in federal court, and won a unanimous jury verdict in her favor, obtaining the largest compensatory damage award permitted under the law for federal employees. Jane also exposed criminal theft of property at the 9/11 crime scene by a handful of FBI agents. She was harshly retaliated against for reporting these violations to the DOJ Inspector General. After a ten-year battle, she prevailed, becoming only one of a small handful of FBI agents to win her cases under the FBI whistleblower Protection Act.

Continue Reading Women whistleblowers show how it’s done

A round-up of recent whistleblower news.

  • The Conversation: #MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss

#MeToo was, of course, about sexual harassment and assault. But it was also a form of mass whistleblowing. The movement signaled victims’ willingness – at an unprecedented scale – to defy promises of secrecy to their employers in service of a larger truth by revealing their experiences of workplace harassment.

In the March 5 piece, Elizabeth C. Tippett, an associate professor at the University of Oregon law school, explains what her research into loyalty revealed about whistleblowing. She said the courts and lawmakers prioritized an employer’s right to loyalty in the past. That is changing.

As legal scholar Richard Moberly documented, the U.S. Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in recent decades in protecting private-sector whistleblowers. Congress has moved in the same direction, tacking on whistleblower protections in major federal legislation, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute.

Indeed, the righteousness of whistleblowers has become a rare matter of bipartisan consensus. In 2017, every lawmaker in both the House and Senate voted in favor of a law expanding whistleblower protections for federal employees.

Continue Reading Whistleblowers have been making headlines this week. Here are a few.

All three position on the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) are now empty with the expiration of the only member’s appointment. In February, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved two of President Trump’s MSPB nominees, but the full Senate has not considered them yet.

A letter from groups representing federal workers, as well as whistleblower and taxpayer advocates, raised concerns about the future of the board.

The MSPB is a three-person board which hears appeals of lower level personnel decisions. The Board hears whistleblower cases and is the backstop for maintaining a non-partisan, professional civil service as the sole enforcement body on many cases. It has not had a quorum since just before President Trump took office. The MSPB needs a quorum of two to act. The term of the single sitting member, Mark A. Robbins, ended on February 28.

A Washington Post column about unfilled political position mentions the MSPB.

The MSPB has a vital mission, namely, to oversee federal hiring, employee management and firing, as well as to provide protection against whistleblower retaliation in government. Perhaps the most invisible force at work at the MSPB is upholding the constitutional legal principles of due process and checks and balances that apply across all three branches of government. That makes the work of the MSPB crucial to making democracy work across the U.S. government. Davidson. 
Continue Reading Yet another try to confirm MSPB board nominees. Then, on to a 2,000-case backlog.

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.

Continue Reading National Whistleblower Center Continues Support of #MeToo Legislation