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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

'American Whistleblower Tour' Visits University of Connecticut

October 31, 2014
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(Washington, DC) – On Tuesday, Nov. 4, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) will bring the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability to the University of Connecticut (UConn). The stop will feature prominent whistleblowers Kathryn Bolkovac (human trafficking) and Jack Spadaro (Martin County coal slurry spill).

GAP's Whistleblower Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing and its critical role in promoting government and corporate accountability. This event will feature a moderated discussion and is free and open to the public. A full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.

This Tour stop is co-sponsored by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Political Science, its First Year Programs and Learning Communities, the Pre-Law Center, the Honors Program, and the Rainbow Center. The program will run from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Storrs Campus Konover Auditorium.

Speakers

  • Kathryn Bolkovac was an International Police Task Force human rights investigator in Bosnia during the war in the Balkans. Working for a private contracting firm assigned to support the UN peacekeeping mission in that country, she discovered that corporate-contracted peacekeepers along with government, UN and military officials were involved in gross wrongdoing, including human trafficking and forced prostitution. After disclosing her findings, she suffered retaliation and was fired. Fearing for her safety, Bolkovac fled the country. With the evidence she brought out with her, she exposed gross human rights violations and crimes, resulting in the removal of multiple UN officers from their positions. Because this process exposed Bolkovac to intense reprisal, she sued her employer and eventually won her lawsuit. Bolkovac’s story served as the inspiration for the 2011 Hollywood film The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave.
     
  • Jack Spadaro has dedicated 40 years of his professional life to mine safety, and today he is among the nation's leading experts on coal waste safety and disposal. Spadaro headed the National Mine Safety and Health Academy when the Martin County Coal Slurry Spill occurred in October 2000, dumping 300 million gallons of coal slurry into 100 miles of streams in Kentucky and West Virginia. The disaster polluted waterways and the drinking supply, killed all life forms in the streams for 100 miles, and affected 27,000 people. Spadaro participated in the federal investigation of that disaster and found evidence that Massey Energy – the owner and operator of the impoundment dam – had prior knowledge of problems with the mine. When the George W. Bush administration took office in January 2001, however, Spadaro's team was told to stop, and repeated interference weakened the report. Spadaro refused to sign off on the erroneous report and resigned his position before going public with his evidence of gross wrongdoing.
     
  • Dana Gold is GAP Senior Fellow and Director of the American Whistleblower Tour. A recognized expert on whistleblowing, Gold has worked since 1995 with occupational truth-tellers who have disclosed fraud and serious threats to public health, safety, and the environment on the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, at several Superfund sites, and at contractor-operated nuclear facilities such as the Hanford site in Washington state. She has also taught whistleblower law and corporate governance as an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law, where she also served as director of its Center on Corporations, Law & Society. She currently serves as a Network Fellow with Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

Gold, who will be moderating the panel discussion, stated: "Our future workforce – the students at UConn – need greater awareness of institutional corruption and the important, yet difficult, role whistleblowers play in promoting government and corporate accountability. We’re glad the UConn community values the importance of creating ethical leaders for the future."

About the Tour

This stop at UConn is the second of several to be held this academic year. During the 2013-14 academic year, the American Whistleblower Tour visited 10 colleges, including Stanford, Princeton, Syracuse, Florida International University, and USC's Annenberg School. GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history for its Tour; past whistleblower presenters have included Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Frank Serpico (NYPD), Sherron Watkins (Enron), and Thomas Drake (NSA).

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.

 

Contact: Zoe Walden
Phone: 202.457.0034 ext. 105
Email: zoew@whistleblower.org

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 nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

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