The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372), which passed unanimously in the House on December 22, was ultimately killed in the post-election session of Congress due to one anonymous senator’s decision to place a secret hold on the bill. The legislation would have strengthened protections for federal whistleblowers who report waste, fraud, or abuse. A stronger version of the legislation was passed by the Senate just weeks before — by unanimous consent — making the actions of this Senator particularly underhanded.
Key Quote: "This holiday season Senate Republicans gave taxpayers a secret Scrooge. After unanimous House approval today, and unanimous Senate approval last month of a stronger bill, this evening an anonymous Senate Republican killed the reform through a secret hold," said Thomas Devine, legal director of the nonprofit Government Accountability Project.
"The senator who sabotaged this bill should come out of the closet. Good government groups want to give him the 2010 Friend of Fraud, Waste and Abuse Award," Devine said. He promised a "relentless search to find the politician who is a cowardly enemy of taxpayers."
Washington Examiner: Obama Skirts Congress to Appoint Lobbying Lawyer
Obama has installed James Cole in the post of deputy attorney general, using a recess appointment to skirt significant objections to his nomination. Cole’s nomination had been held up in the Senate due primarily to concerns over “questions about his time as a compliance monitor at AIG, and his views on fighting terrorism.”
GAP has criticized Cole's nomination, as whistleblowers at AIG reported to us serious problems with Cole’s oversight practices as Independent Consultant (IC). This led to GAP posting several questions to Cole online via YouTube and blogging about the highly questionable practices he employed.
Key Quote: The Government Accountability Project, a self-described "whistleblower protection organization," has repeatedly criticized Cole for not answering more questions about his time at AIG -- specifically about his interactions with other AIG/K Street types, such as Kathleen Chagnon and Fannie Mae alumna Anastasia Kelly.
Related Articles: Washington Post, Huffington Post
The Reporter Online: WikiLeaks Proves Stronger Whistleblower Protection Needed
This op-ed by GAP President Louis Clark criticizes the Pentagon for condemning WikiLeaks but failing to address its own failures or to protect legitimate whistleblowers. Clark cites the cases of Franz Gayl, Joe Darby, and Justin Stoner to demonstrate the retaliatory and dangerous actions that military whistleblowers have faced for exposing wrongdoing.
Truthout.org: Keeping State Secrets
This piece spotlights the case of Thomas Drake — the National Security Agency employee who is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act for retaining classified information in conjunction with a series of news articles that revealed gross mismanagement and waste in the agency. Drake’s case highlights the need for stronger whistleblower protections.
Key Quote: “Too often, whistleblowers end up choosing their conscience over their career, but in Mr. Drake’s case, speaking truth to power may cost him his very liberty,” said Jesselyn Radack, GAP’s homeland security director. Drake’s prosecution has also had a “chilling effect on national security and intelligence community whistleblowers,” she adds, “arguably the category of people you would most want to hear from if the government is torturing people or secretly surveilling its own citizens.”
Food Navigator: GAP Praises Inclusion of Whistleblower Protections in Food Safety Bill
GAP has applauded the inclusion of whistleblower protections for food workers in the recently-passed Food Safety Modernization Act. The legislation protects workers who refuse to violate FDA guidelines or who report those who knowingly do so.
Key Quote: GAP Food Integrity Campaign director Amanda Hitt said: "These whistleblower protection provisions are a monumental change in public health protection, and a huge win for food safety. Whistleblower rights don’t get any stronger than this. Without a doubt, these protections will allow more workers to come forward before outbreaks, which will save lives and enhance food integrity. Lawmakers who made this happen should be commended for standing up for public health."
Lindsay Bigda is Communications Fellow for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.