*3/4/11 UPDATE: Senator Vitter’s office confirmed that he did not place the hold.
You already know that GAP is teaming up with the NPR show On The Media to identify the Senator who put the “secret hold” on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) — a bill that would have provided federal employees with real protections when they expose fraud, corruption, waste, or other wrongdoing.
We know that you understand why this is important (we’ve seen your actions and results in contacting Sen. Vitter and Sen. Landrieu – thank you!). And you know that one of your senators — David Vitter — is among only five senators left who has not confirmed or denied placing the hold.
It’s time for all of us to step up the campaign. Because of your efforts, and according to your notes, we know that Sen. Vitter and his staff are avoiding commenting on the issue directly. In many cases, senate staff of the remaining offices have simply promised to call back (but never do), or dismissed the issue “as a matter of policy” that their office doesn’t comment on holds.
It’s time to get real. Let’s call them out on this wrongful secrecy. We’re asking you to help with a new approach. We’re going beyond the basic question of whether they placed the hold, to a discrete issue —
Why does Senator Vitter consider whistleblower protection to be something that his constituents don’t have a right to know his position on?
You have the power to get answers. Nothing is more influential to senators than hearing concerns from their constituents. Here’s a way to proceed:
First, when you call the Senator’s office, make clear that you are a constituent. You may need to verify your name and hometown. Often, the secretary will ask what your call is in regard to. You can respond that you are calling in regard to a public campaign involving “secret holds.” Even if you are only able to leave a message, please record your communication accordingly. Then, here are some questions that you should consider asking.
1) What is Sen. Vitter’s policy on issuing secret holds? Does he place them, and has he issued them in the past?
2) Does the Senator think there are issues that his constituents do not have the right to know his position on?
3) Specifically, what issues does Sen. Vitter believe his constituents do not have the right to know his position on?
4) I understand that Sen. Vitter is one of only five senators who has not confirmed or denied placing a secret hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act — also known as the WPEA or S. 372 — on the last day of Congress in December. Is this correct, that the Senator has not denied objecting to this bill’s passage?
5) What is his basis for not telling the public whether he blocked enactment of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act?
Please consider taking five minutes out of your day and contacting Sen. Vitter’s office, at 202-224-4623. Please consider emailing the suggested questions as well, to ensure the most comprehensive response and to demonstrate persistence! Please keep track of how many times you contact the Senator’s office. You should ask to speak to one of the following people:
Joel DiGrado (Press Secretary)
Zak Baig (Legislative Director)
Then, email GAP directly back about what you’ve found. Again, detailed notes are important. We’ll share your experience with On The Media, and your notes may be quoted on their website (we won’t print your name, unless you indicate otherwise).
Send your correspondence to GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at [email protected], with “Vitter Response” in the subject line.
You can make a difference. Please help us fight for government accountability.
Shanna Devine is Legislative Coordinator for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower advocacy organization.