Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   No comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Whistleblower Fights Back Against Retaliatory Jailing

By Government Accountability Project  Posted by James Murtagh (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 3/5/09


Salazar Case to be Spotlighted at March 8-11 National Whistleblower Conference

 

GAP Seeks U.S. Office of Special Counsel Order for DOE Investigation
WASHINGTON - March 5 - The Government Accountability Project (GAP) today filed a legal whistleblowing disclosure with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on behalf of Martin Salazar, a 20-year Department of Energy (DOE) employee prosecuted and jailed after ignoring threats to stop the blowing the whistle on agency misconduct. The disclosure seeks an independent investigation of DOE's own role in the misconduct it prosecuted him for after he refused to be silenced.

Salazar persistently challenged confirmed race and sex discrimination at DOE's Savannah River, South Carolina nuclear weapons facility. In 2002 the Merit Systems Protection Board dismissed an attempt to fire him. His efforts led to stronger EEO policies on paper, but he blew the whistle on their non-implementation, as well as a manager's alleged sexual assault of a female coworker. When DOE sought to prosecute the co-worker Salazar again spoke out. The DOE facility's chief counsel Lucy Knowles told him to stay out of it, or he would "be next." When Salazar persisted, DOE opened a retaliatory investigation.

Tired of steady harassment, Mr. Salazar reluctantly agreed to a DOE- proposed settlement agreement in which he would drop all pending EEOC and MSPB cases against the department, and the department would allow him to exhaust his leave and retire rather than losing his pension and benefits. "Unfortunately," says Kasey Dunton, author of the disclosure, "this agreement wasn't just a double-edged sword, it was a sword of Damocles." As explained more fully below, DOE inserted a birth date for Mr. Salazar in the agreement that it later charged was false, and prosecuted Mr. Salazar for signing it.

Salazar, who was born at home, has neither a birth certificate nor a reliable document indicating his birthday. DOE files inconsistently list it from 1954-1958. When Salazar signed his retirement paperwork, he asked and was reassured by DOE Human Resources staff that the 1954 birth date was correct. But without any further communications, on the same day he signed Knowles made a criminal referral to prosecute Salazar for fraud based on using a "false" birthday. Contrary to normal procedure, Knowles did not seek an Inspector General investigation first. In effect, Knowles made the criminal referral to herself. She was doing double duty with the U.S. Attorney's Office and joined the prosecution team. Salazar was ultimately found guilty of three counts fraud and sentenced to one year and one day in medium-security prison.

In the OSC whistleblowing disclosure, Mr. Salazar seeks an independent investigation of alleged DOE false statements in the agency-drafted settlement, and associated DOE abuse of authority summarized above. "If Mr. Salazar goes to jail for signing an inaccurate form," Dunton asked, "shouldn't those who drafted it and reassured him to sign it also be accountable?"

Mr. Salazar's case will be spotlighted at a Washington, D.C. based National Whistleblower Assembly sponsored by the Make It Safe Coalition. (http://makeitsafecampaign.org/) GAP Legal Director Tom Devine explained, "When agencies cannot fire whistleblowers, increasingly they try to put them in jail. Martin Salazar is a classic poster child of this ugliest reprisal tactic - scaring employees into silence by incarcerating those who speak out. Congress needs to extend whistleblower free speech rights from employment to criminal contexts as an affirmative defense against retaliatory investigations and prosecutions. Finding a champion for this reform will be one of our major goals at next week's national conference."

###

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.
Government Accountability Project Links: HomepageGovernment Accountability Project (Press Center)

 

Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Support Whistleblower Protection Act

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Editor

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Sister Aloysius "Doubts"

Sarah Palin is the Ultimate RINO

Patients and Doctors Demand Integrity in Medicine!

Sarah Palin is National Traitor

Should al-Qaeda have the right to bear arms?

Wikileaks: A Peanut Army Topples Global Tyrants

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
No comments