This Tuesday and Wednesday, July 29 and July 30, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) will host four panel discussions on Capitol Hill that address serious and current issues facing corporate and government whistleblowers. The discussions, which feature prominent whistleblowers and high-profile advocates, focus on the challenges that employees encounter when exposing corruption in the corporate financial sector, intelligence community, and federal government. Full information on the panels can be found below, or athttp://wordpress-350926-1087337.cloudwaysapps.com/NWAD.
Three of the panels take place on Wednesday, National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, as recognized by a U.S. Senate resolution passed last year. The events are part of the weeklong “Whistleblower Summit: Civil and Human Rights Conference” running today, July 28, through Thursday, July 31. More on that effort can be found here.
The panel focusing on existing serious problems within the SEC Whistleblower Program – which takes place on Wednesday from 3:15-4:30 p.m. – comes just days after GAP, noted law firm Labaton Sucharow and a growing coalition of organizations urged the SEC to take action and better protect whistleblowers amidst the rise of unethical corporate legal maneuvers, including the implementation of nondisclosure agreements that run afoul of whistleblower laws. Along with unjust referrals for criminal prosecution, these financial companies’ efforts could lead to future whistleblowers remaining silent, endangering the integrity of our economy.
Panel Information (more information here)
Tuesday, July 29
Emerging Threats and Protections for National Security Whistleblowers
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
485 Russell Senate Office Building
National security employees are the nation’s best line of defense against government waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, these modern day Paul Reveres enjoy limited protections when they disclose government misconduct. From Edward Snowden’s disclosures of sweeping government surveillance to a recent court ruling that threatens the civil service rule of law, this panel will explore the vital role of whistleblowers within an ever-expanding national security state. It will further examine newly enacted protections for intelligence community government whistleblowers and a growing campaign to restore rights for their contractor counterparts. Guests include representatives from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Executive Director Shahid Buttar), National Treasury Employees Union (Cathy Ball), and Public Citizen (Keith Wrightson). Moderated by GAP Legal Director Tom Devine.
Wednesday July 30
25 Years of the Whistleblower Protection Act – WPEA: The Next Frontier
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
441 Cannon House Office Building
This year (2014) marks the 25th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). A panel of noted experts will explore the strengths and limitations of the WPA and looming threats to the statute, in addition to recent reforms included in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) of 2012. Participants will analyze congressional efforts to address unresolved issues, from the extension of the all-circuit review provision to jury trial access for federal employees. The panel features representatives from Congress (Krista Boyd, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Counsel) and the FEW Legal Education Fund (Michael McCray). Moderated by GAP Legal Director Tom Devine.
From Firings to Criminal Referrals: The Changing Face of Whistleblower Retaliation
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
441 Cannon House Office Building
During the last few years, there has been a surge in whistleblower protections against workplace retaliation affecting federal and corporate workers alike. Finding it more difficult to justify firing truth-tellers in the face of these buttressed rights, retaliatory managers are increasingly using a new method of retribution – referring whistleblowers for criminal investigations and prosecutions when they engage in protected whistleblowing. This panel will explore the gap in current whistleblower protection legislation against criminal retaliation, and legislative proposals to address this emerging reprisal tactic. Guests include representatives from GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign (Amanda Hitt), Congress (Tristan Leavitt, Investigative Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee), and the National Taxpayers Union (Executive Vice President Pete Sepp). Moderated by GAP Legal Director Tom Devine.
Dodd-Frank 4th Anniversary: Strengthening Anti-Reprisal Rights under the SEC Whistleblower Program
Wednesday July 30th, 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Stewart R. Mott Foundation, 122 Maryland Ave NE Washington DC 20002
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act established the SEC Whistleblower Program. Since its inception in 2010, the program has recovered over $550 million based on whistleblower tips, and whistleblowers enjoy access to an SEC bounty program. However, its anti-reprisal rights are in need of an upgrade. This panel will examine appropriate rule-making for the SEC to clarify and strengthen protections available to those who report misconduct internally or externally. Otherwise, a hostile work environment – rampant with fear of retaliation – could lead future potential whistleblowers to keep quiet and allow fraud continue or intensify. The panel is moderated by noted attorney Jason Zuckerman and features prominent lawyer Jordan Thomas, financial whistleblower Eric Ben-Artzi, and Lisa Donner, the Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.