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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Did Sen. Kyl Indirectly Admit to Blocking Whistleblower Protections?

Sarah Damian, March 07, 2011

Dear Arizonans:

First off, thank you. You've already responded to GAP and the NPR show On The Media's campaign to identify the senator who put the "secret hold" on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). We've seen results (because of you!) in eliminating Sen. John McCain as a suspect.

But one of your senators, Jon Kyl, is one of only three senators left who has not confirmed or denied placing the hold.

Furthermore, Senator Kyl is a particularly interesting subject. He's been contacted no less than 12 times regarding this issue by his constituents - and it appears that his press secretary is dodging calls on the matter. In response to emails, at least three constituents have received the following letter from Sen. Kyl:

“Thank you for contacting me about the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S.372) . The Senate passed S. 372 on Dec 14, 2010 and the House passed a different version of the legislation on Dec 22. With only hours left in the session, the Senate did not have sufficient time to review the House’s changes and reconcile the differences between the two bills.“

Is this an admission of guilt? Is he speaking on behalf of his colleagues (who have expressed support for this bill throughout the campaign), or conceding in a very roundabout manner that he blocked the legislation? Senator Kyl’s response to Arizonans, without further explanation, is woefully disingenuous, since the Senator had more than sufficient time to review the content of the bill. In fact, his office had approved the remaining legislation just weeks prior to this final vote.

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

It's time for all of us to step up the campaign. Do you think, as an Arizonan, that it's your 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. You have the power to get answers. Let's call him out on his evasive response to whether or not he blocked passage of federal whistleblower protections. 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 Kyl'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 Kyl believe his constituents do not have the right to know his position on?

4) I understand that Senator Kyl is one of only four 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. Kyl's office, at (202) 224-4521. 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:

Andrew Wilder (Communications Director: andrew_wilder@kyl.senate.gov

Elizabeth Maier (Legislative Director): elizabeth_maier@kyl.senate.gov

Then, email GAP directly back about what you've found. Again, detailed notes are important. We'll share your experiences 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 "Kyl Response" in the subject line.

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