FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Senators to Hold Press Conference Today to Announce Caucus’ Formation
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Vice Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon will host a press conference to announce the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. The event will be held at 2:30 PM ET in the Senate Judiciary Hearing Room (226 Dirksen Senate Office Building). In addition to founding members of the Caucus, prominent whistleblowers will be available to speak with the media, including GAP clients Robert Maclean* and Peter Forcelli*.
Caucus founding members include Senators Chuck Grassley, Ron Wyden, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Barbara Boxer of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
GAP and the Make It Safe Coalition strongly endorse the establishment of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus. Historically, whistleblower protections have enjoyed bipartisan support, as demonstrated through unanimous passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. Still, whistleblowers risk their professional, and at times, personal freedom when they disclose government misconduct. In Chairman Grassley’s words, “We need to help create a culture where the contributions of whistleblowers are valued and their rights are respected.”
GAP legal director Tom Devine praised the new Senate “Group of Ten’s” leadership on the issue. Devine stated:
“Whistleblower protection may be the only issue in Congress with bipartisan, trans-ideological support. Thanks to this group’s leadership, all Senators will have access to the latest research, case studies and developments. This is an invaluable base for legislation, hearings, training and constituent support. The Whistleblower Protection Caucus will have our community’s full support.”
The Caucus aims to be a resource for Senate offices that grapple with whistleblower-related issues or are interested in promoting greater whistleblower protections. Among other activities, it will 1) bring together a bi-partisan coalition of like-minded Senators to help draw attention to the need for whistleblower protections, 2) offer training and consultation in how Senate offices can effectively respond to whistleblower disclosures or retaliation allegations, and 3) serve as a clearinghouse for current information on whistleblower issues of interest to the Senate.
Robert MacLean was a federal air marshal who spoke up about the consequences of a dangerous government decision to remove air marshals from long distance flights during a confirmed terrorist alert. Because he blew the whistle, the government changed policy and a potential tragedy was averted. But Mr. MacLean paid a hefty price, when he was fired three years later for disclosing “sensitive security information”. He appealed his termination, and in January 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in MacLean’s favor in a 7-2 decision. Robert lives in southern California, with his wife and three children.
Peter Forcelli is a supervisory Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms supervisory Special Agent and key whistleblower in the disclosures that exposed Operation Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice operation that funneled some 2,000 firearms to Mexican drug cartels as an infiltration technique, but one that resulted in many of the same weapons being used to kill civilians and ATF agents. He also has blown the whistle on failure to act after catching 114 disassembled hand grenades crossing the border. He settled a retaliation claim with the Office of Special Counsel after he testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding Department of Justice management failures in connection with Operation Fast and Furious.
Tom Devine, GAP Legal Director
(202) 457-0034 (Ext. 124)
Andrew Harman, GAP Communications Director
(202) 457-0034 (Ext. 156)
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.