Apr 15, 2022

The Honorable Frank Pallone Chairman,
U.S. House Committee
Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Ranking Member, U.S. House Committee
Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

RE: Letter of support of the FTC Whistleblower Act 2021

Dear Chairman Pallone, Ranking Member Rodgers, and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

We write to you as whistleblower advocates to endorse Representative Jan Schakowsky’s FTC Whistleblower Act of 2021 to provide incentives for and protect whistleblowers under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission. This Act will provide best practices for whistleblower protection routinely passed by Congress in the last two decades and provide incentives for whistleblowers based on recoveries stemming from original information provided by the whistleblower to the Commission. A recent Marist Poll indicates that 86 percent of Republican and Democrat American voters alike support whistleblower protections and believe these should be a Congressional priority.

Since the creation of the whistleblower incentives program under the 2010 Dodd Frank Act, the government has recovered over five billion dollars from criminal and fraudulent activity due to whistleblowers’ assistance. Based on the tremendous success of whistleblower reward laws, this legislation will similarly incentivize reporting of violations under the FTC’s jurisdiction.

The FTC Whistleblower Act 2021 would honor best practices for whistleblower protection by:

  • Prohibiting retaliation against businesses and individuals who report potential or suspected violations of any law, rule, or regulation enforced by the Commission, including duty-speech.
  • Protecting those who refuse to violate the law.
  • Prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination, including blocklisting, against whistleblowers and anyone perceived as assisting whistleblowers.
  • Extending Senator Grassley’s anti-gag rights to the FTC whistleblowing context by prohibiting employers from canceling whistleblower rights to report violations under the Commission’s jurisdiction with non-disclosure agreements.
  • Providing an administrative remedy at the Office of Inspector General to conduct investigations of associated fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Providing the right to access to a federal district with a jury trial, which has been a cornerstone of every whistleblower law since 2002.
  • Enforcing the rights with realistic legal burdens of proof equal to those that govern rights in the Whistleblower Protection Act for government employees, the law protecting government contractors and grantees, and all U.S. whistleblower laws enacted since 1992.
  • Repairing inequities by offering “make whole” remedies to those who prevail including compensatory damages, reinstatement with same seniority status but for the discrimination, and litigation costs including attorneys’ fees.

This legislation would also establish a whistleblower reward program at the FTC including:

  • Authorizing the payment of awards to whistleblowers based on recoveries stemming from original information provided by the whistleblower.
  • Providing confidentiality protection to whistleblowers and anonymity, with disclosure of identity required before the payment of an award.
  • Allowing timely appeals of the Commission’s decision regarding the award.

Congress’ sustained leadership on whistleblower protection is essential. This legislation should not be controversial. It merely applies identical rights across whistleblowers laws Congress has enacted since 2005 for financial, food safety, consumer protection and other whistleblowers. For the reasons stated above, we urge you to pass the FTC Whistleblower Act 2021. Should you have any questions, please reach out to Samantha Feinstein at Government Accountability Project at samanthaf@whistleblower.org

Sincerely,

Acorn 8
Affiliation of Christian Engineers
Defending Rights and Dissent
Government Accountability Project
Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto
National Defense University
National Whistleblower Center
National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Public Citizen
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C)
The Silenced No More Foundation
Transparency International U.S.
Whistleblowers of America
Whistleblower Network News
Individual Supporters:
Carol Czarkowski
Gabe Bruno

Cc: Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee