“This is an unprecedented public mandate for freedom of speech when it counts the most – challenging abuses of power that betray the public trust,” added GAP Legal Director Tom Devine. “It also reaffirms voters’ demands for stronger whistleblower protections. The public, and the groups that represent them, define that to mean jury trials for all employees paid by the taxpayers. Whistleblowers are the public’s eyes and ears against government corruption sustained by secrecy.”
(Washington) – A coalition of 112 religious, scientific, consumer, civil liberties, civil rights, peace, small-business, labor, libertarian, journalism, environmental, and good-government organizations, representing millions of Americans, is urging key U.S. Senate and House negotiators to agree to the strongest possible federal employee whistleblower protections and to deliver a bill this year to President Bush.
In a letter delivered to Capitol Hill a diverse array of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Society of Professional Journalists, American Association of Small Business Owners, Consumers Union, the Liberty Coalition and the Rutherford Institute, praised congressional whistleblower rights leaders for the steps they have taken to conclude an eight-year struggle to provide meaningful whistleblower protections to federal employees.
The letter was spearheaded by the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Public Citizen, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“POGO is proud to join our colleagues in support of this historic legislation to protect the courageous men and women willing to risk their careers and family to stand for the truth,” stated POGO Director of Investigations Beth Daley.
Last year, both the House and Senate passed versions of whistleblower rights legislation designed to restore meaningful protections to federal employees who expose waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality. Over the past several months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have been meeting informally to resolve differences between the two bills. Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are championing the measure in the Senate. In the House, lead sponsors and negotiators include Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Tom Davis (R-Va.), Todd Platts (R-Pa.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
“This legislation is an essential building block toward restoring a more accountable, responsible, and effective government for all of its citizens,” added GAP Legislative Representative Adam Miles. “The congressional offices deserve recognition for the marathon commitments they’ve put forth toward making this reform a reality.”
When scientific research is altered or suppressed, government contractors waste millions of taxpayer dollars, or national security documents are falsified, witnesses need to know that they can blow the whistle without reprisals endangering their careers and their lives.
Unfortunately, that is not the case today.
We are close to ending retaliation against those who speak up against abuses – and the unmistakable, chilling message that reprisals against whistleblowers sends to all employees that they should keep quiet, or else.
Last year, strong whistleblower protection bills were passed in both houses of Congress. Now it’s time for Congress to finish the job by passing a final bill.
Show your support for honesty and accountability! Demand that your members of Congress put politics aside to finalize and pass a strong bill to protect government employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse. Please take a minute to personalize the letter listed at: http://action.citizen.org/t/1153/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=24556
THE LETTER READS: I am writing to express my strong support for your efforts to pass legislation to protect government whistleblowers from retaliation. The Senate and the House have both passed bills by a veto-proof majority, but the bills must be reconciled.
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I believe the House’s “Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007” (H.R. 985) offers stronger protections than the Senate’s bill (S. 274). It closes important loopholes by expanding protection to national security workers in the FBI and other intelligence agencies, government contractors, and almost 40,000 airport baggage screeners. It also has a specific provision to protect scientists, making it illegal to censor or alter the results of federal research. For these and other whistleblowers, the right to due process will be provided, including jury trials when they face retribution from co-workers or employers. Even if disclosures are made during official duties, employees should have meaningful protection.
I am discouraged that we are still waiting for you and your colleagues to reconcile the two bills and enact this critical legislation. I urge you to put politics aside in order to finalize and pass the strongest bill possible to protect whistleblowers who expose government waste, fraud, and abuse.
Thank you for listening to a constituent. I look forward to your reply.