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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Attention Idahoans! Does Sen. James Risch Believe He Should Keep Transparency Issues From You?

Dylan Blaylock, March 03, 2011

Dear Idahoan Supporters of Whistleblowers: 

First off, thank you for your actions. You already know that GAP is teaming up with the NPR show On The Media to identify the Senator who put the "secret hold" on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). We know that you understand why this is important (we've seen your actions and results in contacting Sen. Risch and Sen. Crapo). And you know that one of them -- James Risch -- is one of only three senators left who has not confirmed or denied placing the hold. 

It's time for all of us to step up the campaign. Because of your efforts and according to your notes,   Specifically, according to your notes: 

"Press Secretary Kyle Hines, as well as other staffers have repeatedly told callers that the Senator does not comment on Secret Holds. Hines has said "That's his policy - that's his right" and "He just doesn't comment on them." 

Really? Really? It's the senator's right to keep his views and actions on government transparency private, and not have to explain them to his constituents?

That doesn't sit well with us. We don’t think it sits well with you either. We're asking you to help with a new approach. We're going beyond the basic question of whether they placed the hold, to a discrete issue --

 

Why does Senator Risch consider whistleblower protection to be something that his constituents don’t have a right to know his position on?  

You have the power to get answers. Nothing is more influential to senators than hearing concerns from their constituents. Here's a way to proceed. 

First, when you call the Senator’s office, make clear that you are a constituent. You may need to verify your name and hometown. Often, the secretary will ask what your call is in regard to. You can respond that you are calling in regard to a public campaign involving “secret holds.” Even if you are only able to leave a message, please record your communication accordingly. Then, here are some questions that you should consider asking: 

1) What is Senator Risch's policy on issuing secret holds? Does he place them, and has he issued them in the past? 

2) Does the Senator think there are issues that his constituents do not have the right to know his position on? 

3) Specifically, what issues does Senator Risch believe his constituents do not have the right to know his position on? 

4) I understand that Senator Risch is one of only five senators who has not confirmed or denied placing a secret hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act -- also known as the WPEA or S. 372 -- on the last day of Congress in December. Is this correct, that the Senator has not denied objecting to this bill’s passage? 

5) What is the Senator’s basis for not telling the public whether he blocked enactment of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act? 

Please consider taking five minutes out of your day and contacting Sen. Risch's office, at (202) 224-2752. Please consider emailing the suggested questions as well, to ensure the most comprehensive response and to demonstrate persistence! Please keep track of how many times you contact the Senator’s office. You should ask to speak to one of the following people, and let them know that their responses (or lack thereof) may be shared on a public website: 

Kyle Hines (Press Secretary) 
kyle_hines@risch.senate.gov 

Chris Socha (Legislative Director) 
chris_socha@risch.senate.gov 

Then, email GAP directly back about what you've found. Again, detailed notes are important. We'll share your experience with On The Media, and your notes may be quoted on their website (we won’t print your name, unless you indicate otherwise). Send your correspondence to GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at dylanb@whistleblower.org, with "Risch Response" in the subject line. 

You can make a difference. Please help us fight for government accountability.

Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.