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Project on Government Oversight

POGO and 100+ Orgs Urge Congress: Restore Strong, Comprehensive Whistleblower Rights

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June 4, 2008

To: Sen. Joseph Lieberman; Sen. Susan Collins; Sen. Daniel Akaka; Sen. George Voinovich; Rep. Henry Waxman; Rep. Tom Davis; Rep. Todd Platts; Rep. Chris Van Hollen

The undersigned organizations, representing millions of Americans, write to support the completion of the landmark, eight-year legislative effort to restore a credible Whistleblower Protection Act. We offer our support to expeditiously conclude the process of reconciling House and Senate passed versions of this vital good government legislation, H.R. 985 and S. 274.

Unfortunately, every month that passes has very tangible consequences for scores of whistleblowers who still lack viable legal rights. In just the first three months of this year, since both chambers passed their versions of the legislation, whistleblowers have a 2-49 win-loss record in initial decisions from administrative hearings at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). For final rulings by the MSPB, the record is 2-53 under the current Chair. Since January, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a monopoly on appellate review, has ruled against whistleblowers in another ten consecutive decisions on the merits, leaving a track record of 2-200 since October 1994 when Congress last strengthened the law!

We stand ready to provide any information that would help expedite the process, and to help you come to agreement on any unresolved issues. Any compromise should protect several critical provisions, which have already passed with overwhelming support. It is crucial that the final bill:

• Grant employees the right to a jury trial in federal court;

• Specifically protect federal scientists who report efforts to alter, misrepresent, or suppress federal research;

• Extend meaningful protections to FBI and intelligence agency whistleblowers;

• Strengthen protections for federal contractors, as strong as those provided to DoD contractors and grantees in last year’s defense authorization legislation;

• Extend meaningful protections to Transportation Security Officers (screeners);

• Neutralize the government’s use of the “state secrets” privilege;

• Bar the MSPB from ruling for an agency before whistleblowers have the opportunity to present evidence of retaliation;

• Provide whistleblowers the right to be made whole, including compensatory damages;

• Grant comparable due process rights to employees who blow the whistle in the course of a government investigation or who refuse to violate the law; and

• Remove the Federal Circuit’s monopoly on precedent-setting cases.

We know that your offices share the commitment of every group signing the letter below and we deeply appreciate the years of effort to create more accountability in government. Please let us know how we can participate to expeditiously complete this badly needed good government reform. Once the reconciled version becomes law, the real winners will be the public!

Sincerely,

Adele Kushner, Executive Director
Action for a Clean Environment

Rochelle Becker, Executive Director
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

Gil Mileikowsky, M.D.
Alliance for Patient Safety

Linda Lipsen, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs
American Association for Justice (AAJ)

Mary Alice Baish, Acting Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries

F. Patricia Callahan, president and general counsel
American Association of Small Property Owners

Christopher Finan, president
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

Caroline Fredrickson, Director, Washington Legislative Office
American Civil Liberties Union

John Gage, National President
American Federation of Government Employees

Alexandra Owens, Executive Director
American Society of Journalists and Authors

Ms. Bobbie Paul, Executive Director
Atlanta WAND (Women's Action for New Directions)

Nancy Talanian, Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee

William Snape, Senior Counsel
Center for Biological Diversity

Charlie Cray, Director
Center for Corporate Policy

Gregory T. Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director, Project on Freedom, Security & Technology
Center for Democracy and Technology

J . Bradley Jansen, Director
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Merrill Goozner, Director Integrity in Science
Center for Science in the Public Interest

Linda Lazarus, Director
Center to Advance Human Potential

Evelyn M. Hurwich, President and Chair
Circumpolar Conservation Union

David B. McCoy, Executive Director
Citizen Action New Mexico

Deb Katz, Executive Director
Citizens Awareness Network

John Judge
Coalition on Political Assassinations 9/11 Research Project

Michael McCray, Esq., Chair
3.5.7 Commission on Judicial Reform

Sarah Dufendach, Vice President for Legislative Affairs
Common Cause

Clarissa Duran, Director
Community Service Organization del Norte

Joni Arends, Executive Director
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Daniel Hirsch, Member, Executive Committee
Concerned Foreign Service Officers

Matthew Fogg, President
Congress Against Racism & Corruption in Law Enforcement (CARCLE)

Ellen Bloom, Director of Federal Policy
Ami Gadhia, Policy Counsel
Consumers Union 

Mary Elizabeth Beetham, Director of Legislative Affairs
Defenders of Wildlife

Sue Udry, Director
Defending Dissent Foundation

Ben Smilowitz, Director
Disaster Accountability Project

Lisa Walker, executive director
Education Writers Association

Gregory Hile
EnviroJustice

Chuck Broscious, President
Environmental Defense Institute

John Richard
Essential Information

George Anderson
Ethics in Government Group

Steven Aftergood, Project Director
Federation of American Scientists

Marilyn Fitterman, Vice President
Feminists For Free Expression

Andrew D. Jackson, Asst. Campaign Coordinator
Focus-On-Indiana for Judicial Reform

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director
Food and Water Watch

Bob Darby, Coordinator
Food Not Bombs/Atlanta

Tom Ferguson, Coordinator
Foundation for Global Community/Atlanta

Ruth Flower, Legislative Director
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)

Conrad Martin, Executive Director
Fund for Constitutional Government

Gwen Marshall, Co-Chairman
Georgians for Open Government

Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Legacy Program Director
Global Green USA
(The US Affiliate of Green Cross International, Mikhail Gorbachev, Chairman)

Tom Devine, legal director
Government Accountability Project

Molly Johnson, Area Coordinator
Grandmothers for Peace, San Luis Obispo County Chapter

Jenefer Ellingston
Green Party of the United States

James C. Turner, Executive Director
HALT, Inc. -- An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform

Tom Carpenter, Executive Director
Hanford Challenge

Helen Salisbury, M.D.
Health Integrity Project

Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Donald Soeken, President
Integrity International

Jim Murtagh, Co-Chair
International Association of Whistleblowers

Mory Atashkar, Vice President
Iranian American Democratic Association

Mark S. Zaid
James Madison Project

Brett Kimberlin, Director
Justice Through Music

Michael D. Ostrolenk, National Director
Liberty Coalition

Jill McElheney, Founder
Micah's Mission
Ministry to Improve Childhood & Adolescent Health

James Landrith, Founder
The Multiracial Activist

Larry Fisher, Founder
National Accountant Whistleblower Coalition

Tinsley H. Davis, Executive Director
National Association of Science Writers

Joan E. Bertin, Esq., Executive Director
National Coalition Against Censorship

Sally Greenberg, Executive Director
National Consumers League

Terisa E. Chaw, Executive Director
National Employment Lawyers Association

Zena D. Crenshaw, Executive Director
National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc.

Paul Brown, Government Relations Manager
National Research Center for Women & Families

Pete Sepp, Vice President for Policy & Communications
National Taxpayers Union

Colleen M. Kelley, National President
National Treasury Employees Union

Steve Kohn, President
National Whistleblower Center

Amy Allina
National Women's Health Network

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Ron Marshall, Chairman
New Grady Coalition

Rick Engler, Director
New Jersey Work Environment Council

Alice Slater, Director
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York

David A. Kraft, Director
Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)

Michael Mariotte, Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Sean Moulton, Director, Federal Information Policy
OMB Watch

Patrice McDermott, Executive Director
OpenTheGovernment.org

Joe Carson, Chair
P. Jeffrey Black, Co-Chair
OSC Watch

Judy Norsigian, Executive Director
Our Bodies Ourselves

Betsy Combier, President and Editor
Parentadvocates.org

Former Special Agent Darlene Fitzgerald
Patrick Henry Center

Paul Kawika Martin, Organizing, Political and PAC Director
Peace Action & Peace Action Education Fund

Rev. Paul Alexander, Ph.D., Director
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice

David Banisar, Director, FOI Project
Privacy International

Ronald J Riley, President
Professional Inventor's Alliance

Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight

Ellen Thomas, Executive Director
Proposition One Committee

David Arkush, Director, Congress Watch
Public Citizen

Jeff Ruch, Executive Director
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Lucy A. Dalglish, Executive Director
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Kirsten Moore, President and CEO
Reproductive Health Technologies Project

John W. Whitehead, president
The Rutherford Institute

Adrienne Anderson, Coordinator
Safe Water Colorado and Nuclear Nexus Projects
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
(Whistleblower Anderson v Metro Wastewater)

Dr. Roland Chalifoux
The Semmelweis Society International (SSI)

Clint Brewer, President
Society of Professional Journalists

Kevin Kuritzky
The Student Health Integrity Project (SHIP)

Daphne Wysham, Co-Director
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN)

Jeb White, Executive Director
Taxpayers Against Fraud

Paul Taylor
Truckers Justice Center

Francesca Grifo, Ph.D., Director Scientific Integrity Program
Union of Concerned Scientists

Dane von Breichenruchardt, President
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

Gary Kalman, Director, Federal Legislative Office
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG)

Dr. Jeffrey Fudin, Founder
Veterans Affairs Whistleblowers Coalition

Ann Harris, Executive Director
We the People, Inc

Mabel Dobbs, Chair Livestock Committee
Western Organization of Resource Councils

Janet Chandler, Co-Founder
Whistleblower Mentoring Project

Linda Lewis, Director
Whistleblowers USA

Kim Witczak
WoodyMatters

 

Cc: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
House Minority Leader John Boehner