Tour Stop features Citigroup, Hanford, Beef Whistleblowers
(Washington, DC) – On March 23, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) brings its program, the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability, to the Seattle University School of Law. The stop will feature prominent whistleblowers Richard Bowen (Citigroup), Walt Tamosaitis (Hanford Nuclear Site) and John Munsell (contaminated meat/ConAgra/USDA).
GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating university students, and the general public, about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. This Tour stop is highlighted by a panel presentation featuring high-profile whistleblowers discussing their experiences, and is being sponsored by the Seattle University School of Law and the Seattle University Albers School of Business & Economics.
The Seattle stop features prominent and nationally recognized whistleblowers participating in the key panel presentation (free to all). The whistleblowers include:
- Richard Bowen: Bowen is a former vice president at Citigroup who tried to warn the Bank's high-level brass about the rise in numbers of defective mortgages. Specifically, he was responsible for evaluating the quality of $90 billion of mortgages that Citigroup was buying annually from Countrywide and other lenders. Late last year, on a special 60 Minutes episode, Bowen detailed how he began to raise concerns internally in June 2006 upon discovering that some 60% of prime mortgages (making up some $50 billion) were defective. Furthermore, Bowen witnessed how Citigroup intentionally lowered its standards for accepting subprime mortgage pools. He testified in 2010 before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about his whistleblowing, and continues to face repercussions from his efforts to blow the whistle.
- Walt Tamosaitis: Deputy Chief Process Engineer and Research & Technology Manager for the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Eastern Washington, Dr. Tamosaitis was terminated from the project by contractor Bechtel after raising safety concerns about issues that would impact the overall safety and operation of the plant. Dr. Tamosaitis' case against Bechtel is embroiled in federal lawsuits.
- John Munsell: Munsell owned a small meat processing company when he reported that a giant packing company (ConAgra) was the source of E. coli-tainted meat at his plant. However, the USDA refused to investigate his claims and shut down his plant instead. Munsell continued to spread the word about the tainted beef. His disclosures, along with deaths from the tainted beef, spurred the recall of 19 million pounds of beef by ConAgra, one of the largest recalls in history.
A full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
The presentation will be moderated by Dana Gold, a GAP Senior Fellow and the Director of the American Whistleblower Tour. Gold is a ’95 graduate of Seattle University School of Law and was the co-founder and Director of its Center for Corporations, Law & Society from 2003-2008.
“Whistleblowing addresses fundamental issues of ethics and the value of all employees functioning as whole persons in the workplace to promote not only compliance and accountability, but also a just and humane world," stated Gold. "I am eager to return to Seattle University to highlight these timely issues.”
Seattle University School of Law Dean Mark C. Niles, who also serves on GAP’s Board of Directors, stated: "Highlighting the importance of protecting whistleblowers who stand up against wrongdoing fits perfectly with our mission to educate outstanding lawyers who are committed to social justice. GAP is doing important work, and the law school is pleased be a partner in bringing the tour to the university.”
The panel presentation will take place at 5:30-7 p.m. in room C-5 at Seattle University School of Law and is free to attend. The public and members of the press are welcome.
This Seattle University stop is the latest of several Tour stops this academic year. Thus far, stops have included the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Brandeis, Texas at Austin, Auburn, Florida International, Rutgers-Newark, Syracuse, Tulane, and the South Texas School of Law.
Goals of the Tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy, preparing America's youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources, and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.
In February 2010, GAP teamed up with film production company Participant Media and the Manhattan venue Paley Center for the Media to produce the definitive television presentation on whistleblowing – Anyone Can Whistle: The Essential Role of the Whistleblower in American Society. The event, watched online live by thousands, was the first-ever special explaining and celebrating the role of whistleblowers in our culture. Hosted by Juan Williams (then of NPR), and featuring whistleblower heroes such as Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Serpico, Coleen Rowley and others, the program examined the six stages of the typical whistleblowing experience, celebrated the courage of whistleblowers, and decried the lack of adequate legal protections.
More importantly, the presentation educated the public on the practice of whistleblowing. Through the American Whistleblower Tour, we hope to expand upon the goals and the energy that emerged from this past event.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.