Coalition Wants Whistleblower Rights Expanded

A group of 112 religious, scientific, consumer, and civil liberties organizations delivered a letter to U.S. Senate and House negotiators on June 4, asking them to agree to the strongest possible federal employee whistleblower protections in a bill this year. The letter's signers included the American Civil Liberties Union, Society of Professional Journalists, American Association of Small Business Owners, and Consumers Union. The letter was spearheaded by the Government Accountability Project, Public Citizen, the Project On Government Oversight, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"POGO is proud to join our colleagues in support of this historic legislation to protect the courageous men and women willing to risk their careers and family to stand for the truth," said POGO Director of Investigations Beth Daley. "This is an unprecedented public mandate for freedom of speech when it counts the most: challenging abuses of power that betray the public trust," said GAP Legal Director Tom Devine. "It also reaffirms voters' demands for stronger whistleblower protections. The public, and the groups that represent them, define that to mean jury trials for all employees paid by the taxpayers. Whistleblowers are the public's eyes and ears against government corruption sustained by secrecy."

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have been meeting to resolve differences between two bills, with Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are leading the effort in the Senate.

"Government workers who warn us of waste, fraud, and abuse should be protected, not punished," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division. "All federal employees -- including scientists, contractors, and intelligence agents -- should be able to expose wrongdoing without fear of reprisal. Congress should send a bill with an unmistakable message to the White House: We stand by the patriots who keep the public trust."

To read the letter, visit www.whistleblower.org/doc/2008/CoalitionLetterJune4.pdf.

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