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Advertisement U.S. Senator Grassley on National Whistleblower Appreciation Day
by Report submitted · August 3rd, 2017

Q: What is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day?

A: There's a cultural tendency in many workplaces "to go along, to get along." That unwritten code of cooperation is prevalent throughout the private sector and the government. However, there's also an inherent moral code among Americans to do what's right and to fix what's wrong.

When it comes to exposing wrongdoing with the federal bureaucracy, lawfully reporting misconduct can help save lives, protect public safety and restore money lost to fraud. ... Just six months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, 10 sailors aboard the warship Warren exposed misconduct by the Navy's highest officer. Even before the adoption of the First Amendment or federal whistleblower laws, these patriots were compelled by a sense of duty and public service to report misdeeds.

As a result of the disclosures, their commanding officer retaliated, suing the sailors for conspiracy and criminal libel. Two of the whistleblowers were arrested and jailed. With limited means and unable to post bail, they petitioned the Continental Congress to intervene on their behalf. Following a review, the Continental Congress passed a resolution on July 30, 1778, to encourage American citizens to help expose wrongdoing.

The act states: "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 persons in the service of the states, which may come to their knowledge."

The Continental Congress also approved government payment of the legal costs and attorney fees for the two defendants and ordered a full release of records related to the case. Truth and justice prevailed in the nation's first whistleblower case, as the defendants were found innocent by a jury of their peers. This first case also previews the essential role that truth-tellers serve in a nation whose origins - "of, by and for the people" -- gave birth to the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. The freedom to speak openly and the right to petition the government are fundamental tools to redress grievances and protect liberty. With appropriate safeguards for protecting information vital to the national security, empowering individuals to report wrongdoing strengthens our most prized institutions and serves as a deterrent to prevent illicit activity in the public and private sectors. To commemorate the legacy of our nation's first whistleblowers, I started an effort a few years ago to observe National Whistleblower Appreciation Day each year on July 30. The bipartisan resolution affirms the contributions of good faith reporting that exposes waste, fraud and abuse, as well as other violations of law.

Q: How have you worked to protect and encourage whistleblowers?

A: As a watchdog for the taxpaying public and good government, I have worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen whistleblower laws. As I learned long ago with procurement fraud within the Department of Defense, whistleblowers provide critical information that helps to hold those in positions of power and authority to account. Whistleblowers' truthful reporting exposes unlawful activity, saves taxpayer money and helps Congress write better laws. My updates to the False Claims Act have helped to detect and prosecute outrageous fraud in government contracting. So far, false claims suits have recovered more than $53 billion to the federal treasury. I also have worked to secure whistleblower protections for those who report tax fraud. Since my amendments were adopted in 2006, the government has recovered more than $3 billion in taxes that otherwise would have been lost to fraud. I have also championed stronger legal protections for whistleblowers that help prevent the federal bureaucracy and corporate management from retaliating against their employees and chilling protected speech. And I will stay vigilant to protect due process and work to weed out tricks and loopholes that effectively silence and suppress workers from exposing misconduct.

This is a big deal. Every tax dollar lost to fraud hurts honest taxpayers. Wrongdoing that cuts corners can endanger public safety, erode public services and undermine the national security of the United States. Iowans know that I take my constitutional oversight responsibilities seriously. No matter which political party leads Congress or who sits in the Oval Office, oversight is a fundamental instrument in our system of checks and balances. Whistleblowers are indispensable to help me fulfill this constitutional responsibility. That's why I roll out the welcome mat for those who can weed out wrongdoers and root out a culture of corruption or cover-up. ... Their goals may be simple-to tell the truth and expose wrongdoing-but their task is never easy. National Whistleblower Appreciation Day is about honoring their courage and commitment to responsible business and accountable government. Just as the Continental Congress called upon our earliest citizens 239 years ago on July 30, 1778, to report wrongdoing, I salute those who come forward to expose misconduct and encourage all Americans to keep their eyes and ears open in the name of truth and transparency.

National Whistleblower Appreciation Day was July 30. Senator Grassley is chairman and a co-founder of the 12-member bipartisan Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.
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