Thursday, July 30, seven US Senators, advocacy groups and individuals assembled in a private luncheon to applaud the unanimous Senate resolution declaring July 30th as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day – a day to honor whistleblowers and provide impetus for stronger whistleblower legal protections.
The declaration falls on the 237th anniversary of the first whistleblower law, enacted with zero dissent by the Continental Congress on July 30, 1778. The original Continental Congress document proclaimed, “That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”
Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus Members’ Victory
The gathering of approximately 200 people included Chairman and Vice Chairman of the bipartisan Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), Caucus members Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), members of the U.S. Department of Justice, state Attorneys General, whistleblowers, and renowned whistleblower attorneys.
Sen. Grassley commented, “Whistleblowers foster transparency and make it possible for organizations to do better. Transparency brings accountability. After all, you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken.”
Sen. Wyden remarked on the inclusion of both Republicans and Democrats in defending the rights of whistleblowers, commenting to people in attendance who had successfully blown the whistle on fraud against the government, “You have friends on both sides of the aisle.”
According to attorney Brian Mahany, whose whistleblower clients have aided in the recovery of over $16 billion in the past two years, "America's founding fathers who passed the False Claims Act 237 years ago today would be honored by these citizen-heroes who risk their careers and sometimes liberty to report fraud and misconduct by corporate wrongdoers."
Whistleblowers Jane Turner and Marcel Read Share Difficult Journeys to Justice
Whistleblowers speaking at the summit included Jane Turner and Marcel Reid, who emphasized the importance of whistleblower anti-retaliation protections. Turner discussed the difficulties and heroism involved in bringing fraudulent behavior to justice saying of whistleblowers, “…many suffer from PTSD and depression, and none of us survive unchanged.”
Whistleblower Reid encountered death threats during her experience and discussed the importance of integrity in spite of the challenges faced when blowing the whistle on government fraud. Ms. Reid explained that “Without the truth, we don’t have a democracy. We just have a government that is totally totalitarian.”
Whistleblowers are protected under False Claims Act anti-retaliation provisions and are given incentive to report any knowledge of fraud against government finances through the whistleblower reward provision, which offers a cash payment of 10-30 percent of any monies recovered by the government in a False Claims Act settlement or verdict. More than 70 billion dollars have been recovered through whistleblower lawsuits to date, generating hundreds of millions in whistleblower rewards.