Episode Shows Need for Passage of Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
(Washington, DC) – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) today announced the second successful settlement involving allegations of retaliation against a whistleblower involved in the "Fast & Furious" scandal, the program that resulted in federally-monitored guns ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. GAP praised new leadership at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and an effective mediation program at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), for settling the case of ATF agent Larry Alt.
“Mr. Alt has been vindicated, and new ATF leadership is two-for-two in correcting retaliatory acts against Fast & Furious whistleblowers," said Alt’s attorney, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine. "Justice was done thanks to leadership at the Bureau and the Office of Special Counsel, each of which is choosing the high road with whistleblowers."
Last month, the ATF settled retaliation claims filed by agent Pete Forcelli, another Fast & Furious whistleblower and GAP client, who testified to Congress about the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona's leadership of the operation. Alt also testified, concentrating on collusion by local Bureau officials regarding the operation. Along with other whistleblower concerns, these disclosures led to cancellation of the program. Forcelli and Alt have been vindicated by actions of the Senate and House of Representatives, and even Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed that changes he instituted, following the emergence of the scandal, will ensure "that this doesn't happen ever again."
Alt’s Arizona supervisors, however, responded to his Congressional testimony with steady harassment. Consequently, he filed a Whistleblower Protection Act complaint with the OSC because his supervisors stripped him of his duties, lowered his performance appraisal, engaged in a retaliatory investigation, and threatened future actions.
Alt commented on resolution of the lawsuit, stating: "I am happy to say that through the efforts of GAP, the Office of Special Counsel, the Federal Law Enforcement Association and the current ATF leadership that my complaint is resolved. I am pleased with the outcome and hope that this is just one step in the direction of positive resolution of all the issues related to Operation Fast and Furious."
While pleased for Alt and Forcelli, Devine cautioned, "These happy endings are the exception, not the rule for whistleblowers. Few agencies respond in this way, as federal whistleblowers’ legal rights are virtually unenforceable. Until Congress acts on the long-delayed Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, it will remain this way. Congressional leaders are racing to leave town, so they can campaign against government fraud, waste and abuse. Hopefully the politicians first will find time to restore rights for whistleblowers who risk their careers for those campaign promises."
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137, 202.236.3733 cell
Contact: Tom Devine, Legal Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 124
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.