Senator Charles Grassley Opens Whistleblower Summit and Recieves Prestigious "Pillar Human Rights" Award
By Michael McCray
Whistleblowers convene historic civil and human rights conference on Capitol Hill. Senators Grassley, Collins and McCaskill receive prestigous "Pillar Human Rights Award." Conference participants stand against WoW and call for an end to Obama's War on Women and Whistleblowers.
Refusing to be intimidated or forced into the shadows, Michael McCray and dozen's of other whistleblowers from across the country are speaking out and converged on Capitol Hill to convene the sixth annual Whistleblower Summit. McCray has a passion for justice, and is on a mission to speak out against corruption through the halls of the Nation's Capitol.
The ACORN 8 and the USDA Coalition co-hosted this year's Whistleblower Summit aCivil & Human Rights Conference in Washington, DC. "Our conference theme was "WoW" Obama?' We were focusing on the Obama Administration's War on Whistleblowers; and federal workforce violence, or Obama's War on Women at USDA."
Lawrance Lucas, President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees states, "We will ask President Obama to promptly intervene and bring the long history of widespread discrimination to an end. We want USDA top officials held accountable, and the USDA Office of Civil Rights --administration and process-- put into receivership."
An initial organizer of Washington Whistleblower's Week in 2006, McCray was one the chief organizers for the Whistleblower Summit which took on Capitol Hill last week.
"We are very excited about this year's conference, because our coalitions have grown, and our partners are stronger. We are honored to present Senators Charles Grassley a perennial supporter of whistleblowers and Susan Collins the sponsor of the original Whistleblower Protection Act the prestigious Pillar Human Rights Award for their support of whistleblower rights first amendment advocates," concludes McCray.
Lawrence Lucas, Marcel Reid, Michael McCray present Pillar Human Rights Award to by W.E. Calbert Jr.
The Opening Plenary took place in the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room included a symbolic "Empty Chair" welcome ceremony (pioneered by Dr. James Murtagh, M.D.) honoring courageous whistleblowers who cannot be present due to retaliatory imprisonment, untimely death or increased prosecution under the Obama Administration.
Symbolic Empty Chair for Fallen and/or Imprisioned Whistleblowers
Marcel Reid, Pacifica Board Member and ACORN Whistleblower adds, "We are proud to announce that MSNBC Host Dylan Ratigan had agreed to participate and that the PACIFICA Radio Network is committed to broadcast the historic event nationally."
Courtney Dillard, candidate for Georgia's Fourth Congressional District said, "We need more people to support the brave whistleblowers who to step up and speak out abut inequality and unfairness. We must stop mortgage and foreclosure fraud, and judicial corruption." Dillard attended this year's Washington Whistleblowers' Summit.
The conference included a press conference on the National Mall took place in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the passage of the No FEAR Act, which was the first civil rights legislation of the 21st century. "We will stand on the National Mall in the shadows of Martin Luther King Jr. to continue the fight for civil and human rights," said Marsha Coleman Adebayo, Co-chair of the No FEAR Coalition, "We are here to present No FEAR Report Cards for the worst federal agencies in terms of discrimination and retaliation."
"We are in the middle of a 13 year battle to enhance whistleblower protections. We were blocked by a cowardly secret Senate hold last year--but we not let that happen again," adds Tom Devine, Legal Director for the Government Accountability Project. "We are here to support increased legislative protections and to strengthen the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, and we will bring it over the top with the Whistleblower Summit this year."
Remarks of Senator Charles E. Grassley
Before the Whistleblower, Civil, & Human Rights Summit
Monday, May 21, 2012
Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226
Friends and Patriots, thank you all for coming here today to discuss whistleblower, civil, and human rights. I welcome you all. But, I want to pay special recognition to the whistleblowers here today that have come forward to expose wrongdoing, waste, fraud, and abuse. These courageous whistleblowers have risked their careers, livelihoods, and personal well-being. I thank all whistleblowers and those who support their cause.
You've gathered here in Washington from across the United States to promote, celebrate, and educate Congress about the courage and patriotism of whistleblowers. Welcome.
In regards to the folks here today with the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, I want to say thank you for all you do to push for change.
I've been working with you for many years to bring about improvements in how USDA handles discrimination claims.
The Coalition played a crucial role in raising awareness of some of the difficulties facing USDA employees who filed complaints.
I'm proud to stand with you and demand USDA officials ensure there is a process for employees to have their discrimination claims heard in a fair and timely manner.
And our work hasn't gone unnoticed. But we haven't finished our work.
I'm going to continue my oversight of USDA until I am satisfied they have a system in place to properly handle discrimination and retaliation claims.
The dean of Whistleblowers, Ernie Fitzgerald once said that the only crime whistleblowers commit is that they "commit truth." For it, they're as welcome as a skunk at a picnic. Today's event highlights the uphill struggle that whistleblowers overcome. I commend each and every whistleblower that, like Ernie, fights to make sure that the truth is heard.
It's a tremendous honor to stand before such a diverse coalition of individual whistleblowers, friends, and other supporters.
Today's event provides a forum to discuss a number of important bills pending before Congress that will strengthen and expand existing whistleblower protection laws. I am proud to report that one important bill, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which I have cosponsored with Senator Akaka, recently passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
This legislation makes a number of important changes to the Whistleblower Protection Act for Federal employees. It overturns a number of court decisions and rulings of the Merit Systems Protection Board that have limited whistleblower rights. It clarifies court jurisdiction and appeals of whistleblower cases.
Most importantly, it provides federal whistleblower protection laws to members of the Intelligence Community for the first time. I strongly support this provision. It provides protections without harming national security. Coupled with a new process to challenge suspensions of security clearances, it provides real protections for Intelligence Community employees.
This important bill is now pending in the House. I know that Congressman Issa is a supporter of this legislation and that the bill has been referred to his Committee, along with some others. I'd encourage all of you to work constructively with the House to make sure that this legislation continues to progress.
It would be a great victory for all whistleblowers to have this bill signed into law. Protections for federal employees need to be strengthened, and this bill does that.
I've said it for many years--I'd like to see the President of the United States have a Rose Garden ceremony honoring whistleblowers. This would send a message from the very top of the government to the bottom about the importance and value of whistleblowers. They deserve it, and we all ought to be grateful for their efforts. It would be the perfect event for the President to sign a bill like the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.
But, federal employee whistleblowers are only one story in a fight on many fronts. Other legislation provides significant protections for private sector employees working in critical sectors.
I was an original sponsor of the False Claims Act Amendments Act of 1986, the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections, and the new whistleblower protections at the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Corporation. These groundbreaking laws represent a commitment on the federal level that recognizes the good that whistleblowers bring when they are free to speak. They provide an opportunity to ensure that the truth comes out in our financial sector.
However, these important laws are only as strong as the resolve of the whistleblowers to stand up, speak out, and fight to bring the forward the truth. Every day whistleblowers like you are doing your part. By attending events like this and coming forward to tell your stories, you help to put a face and a name on whistleblower issues. I thank you for coming here today to tell these stories in a public setting.
In closing, I'd like to again thank you all for putting together this forum. It represents the hard work and patriotic spirit of individuals. As long as I'm around in Congress, I'll keep fighting for whistleblowers right beside you. Thank you.
The conference also included a historic panel discussion with distinguished authors of whistleblower books who were present to autograph and discuss their books and advocacy, following a whistleblower film screening at Busboys and Poets at 14th and V. Street.
A native of the Arkansas Delta Region, Michael McCray traveled to Washington during the Clinton Administration and worked at U.S. Department of Agriculture on the Federal Empowerment Zone Program, which was a Clinton White House Initiative. But he blew the whistle on over $40 Million of waste, fraud and abuse at USDA and the mismanagement of millions of dollars intended to benefit low and moderate income communities. He became a federal whistleblower.
ACORN 8: Race, Power & Politics (Book Cover)
After suffer devastating discrimination and retaliation at USDA, McCray continued his advocacy on behalf of marginalized people by joining ACORN. You can say he wrote the book on ACORN corruption, because he really did. His new book ACORN 8: Race Power & Politics describes the inner struggle within the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and how it exploited the low-income and minority members it was founded to serve.
Michael McCray is a public interest advocate who combats racism and corruption in the government and other institutions which deprive individuals of their basic civil rights, human rights and constitutional liberties. McCray is co-chair of the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW), and a National Board Member for Federally Employed Women Legal Education Fund (FEW/LEF). McCray is the Author of ACORN 8: RACE, POWER & POLITICS--Memoirs of an ACORN Whistleblower; and he also hosts "The Fifth Estate" on Pacifica Radio, the only show made by whistleblowers--about whistleblowers.