More American Institutions Should Help Fortify Government Whistleblowers

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Zena D. Crenshaw, Executive Director of The American Whistleblowers’ League (AWL) says “. . . we should not simply empower and then rely on administrative agencies and courts to redress the tremendous toll that conscientious, government whistleblowers can endure”. She explains, “the proposed whistleblower legislation before Congress contemplates relief that would be light at the end of a tunnel all federal whistleblowers should be equipped to travel in very practical ways”. It is reportedly “ . . . time for American institutions of social justice to embrace and nurture their de facto agents being government whistleblowers who act in good conscience”.

the 'Paul Revere Freedom to Warn Act,' a comprehensive bill to provide protections to government and private sector employees who are retaliated against for reporting flaws in national or homeland security, public health and safety, or waste, fraud and mismanagement of public funds.

The American Whistleblowers’ League (AWL) is a nonpartisan coalition of local, state, and federal government whistleblowers on alleged executive, legislative, and judicial misconduct. AWL reportedly emerged to more centralize the work of government whistleblowers across America which includes lobbying of various legislatures to establish or enhance their statutory rights, litigating to enforce them, and publicizing the underlying government misconduct. As America’s premier advocate for federal government whistleblowers, The Government Accountability Project (GAP) of Washington, D. C. and Seattle, Washington, leads the way in moving Congress amicably towards a floor vote on S. 494/H.R. 1317 to once again restore the Whistleblower Protection Act, essentially nullified through judicial rulings, and create vital jury trial rights for federal employees. Supplementing that effort is the recent bill of Senator Frank Launtenberg (D.– NJ), earmarked to hopefully become The Whistleblower Empowerment, Security, and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2005. GAP’s Legal Director, Tom Devine, informs AWL for which he is Policy Advisor that Senator Launtenberg’s bill is like a “last brick to complete creation of genuine government whistleblower rights” with “S.494 as the foundation for its structural reforms.”

On Thursday, March 9, 2006, Representative Edward J. Markey (D - MA) and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D - NY) introduced "the 'Paul Revere Freedom to Warn Act,' a comprehensive bill to provide protections to government and private sector employees who are retaliated against for reporting flaws in national or homeland security, public health and safety, or waste, fraud and mismanagement of public funds." According to Tom Devine, the “Markey (and Maloney) bill would end the chaos and replace the crazy quilt patchwork of inconsistent, sometimes contradictory whistleblower laws with one coherent set of free speech rights nearly for all employees – corporate, federal government, and even military”. He explains, “this would elevate U.S. whistleblower rights to the rational system of consistent rights that currently exists only in Great Britain and South Africa.”

AWL commends GAP, the good members of Congress, and the many good government advocates steadfastly supporting those who literally “risk it all” to help keep America safe and sound. “I would only add that as Americans, we should not simply empower and then rely on administrative agencies and courts to redress the tremendous toll that conscientious, government whistleblowing can endure,” says Zena D. Crenshaw, Executive Director for AWL. She explains, “the proposed whistleblower legislation before Congress contemplates relief that would be light at the end of a tunnel all federal whistleblowers should be equipped to travel in very practical ways.” According to Crenshaw, “more American institutions should help fortify these federal employees and other government whistleblowers as they are among our best stewards.”

Crenshaw notes that professional societies often service state regulated businesses and professions, helping administer a code of ethics by which their members are to abide. She projects that AWL will encourage more of them to appropriately support government whistleblowers among their ranks. “A single person or few people should not bear the many costs of defining the First Amendment rights of an industry or work-force, particularly any vested with considerable public trust, and the subject is much too important for government authorities to address alone,” says Crenshaw. Private associations should be more pro-active in protecting the duty of their members to challenge government misconduct according to Crenshaw.    

While AWL is a coalition, it is comprised of individuals. Crenshaw contends they only truly survive to recover what Congress and other legislative bodies make rightfully theirs if collective strength is unleashed on their behalf throughout the whole process. She comments, “if high profile activists can have difficulty fund-raising, securing media attention, and maintaining networks for emotional support, imagine the plight of government whistleblowers who were never destined for national headlines. It’s time for American institutions of social justice to embrace and nurture their de facto agents being government whistleblowers who act in good conscience.” According to Crenshaw, AWL will rally professional societies, colleges, universities, unions, faith based communities, private businesses, and individuals for a campaign reminiscent of the 1960's civil rights campaign. She projects that we must bring justice where it is missing in public sector workplaces and stop the ruination of government whistleblowers for the good of America.

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