Whistleblowers Refuse to be Silenced or Intimidated: Whistleblower Groups Convene Historic Civil and Human Rights Summit on Capitol Hill

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Whistleblower, Civil Rights and Human Rights advocates convene a historic summit on Capitol Hill; Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressional Representatives Elijah Cummings, Blake Farenthold, Jackie Speier and U.S. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner to receive the coveted Pillar Award for Human Rights. Pacifica Radio, Code Pink, ACORN 8 and Drum Majors for Truth join forces to support the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights and commemorate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.

Over the last eight years, members from the Make it Safe Coalition (MISC) have arranged an assembly of whistleblowers in Washington, DC each year for an annual conference originally known as Washington Whistleblower’s Week. The Pacifica Foundation continues their historic support of whistleblowers, along with Code Pink and the Black Law Students Association at Georgetown University. Gloria Minott, from WPFW will moderate this year’s event. Whistleblowers and their advocates will descend on Capitol Hill to convene the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights (July 28-31, 2014).

We are also celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the passage Whistleblower Protection Act. Tom Devine, Legal Director for the Government Accountability Project, commented: "This law is a landmark paradigm shift of legal rights, but it would be dishonest to say that any government whistleblower is safe. Since the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act’s passage, the Federal Circuit has ruled against whistleblowers in all final decisions. Unlike corporate whistleblowers, federal employees cannot seek justice through a jury trial. There is no legally safe option for Intelligence Community workers to challenge misconduct within the system, leaving media leaks as the only alternative to professional suicide. There is no protection against retaliatory criminal investigations or prosecutions, often more chilling than job reprisals. Our work is not over."

Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley authored the historic legislation, and passed a resolution to commemorate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center adds, "Whistleblowers are under attack. They have been gagged. They have been fired. They have been indicted and imprisoned. Yet, they have saved taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars and have exposed incredible corporate and government abuses. National Whistleblower Day is the time to remember that our Founding Fathers fully supported the duty of every American to blow the whistle on frauds, and a time to honor those who have sacrificed for the public interest."

ACORN 8 and Drum Majors for Truth (DM4T) will co-host this year’s conference, previously known as Washington Whistleblower's Week. This four-day event features Plenary Session, Workshops and Panel Discussions, Press Conference at the National Press Club, Whistleblower Book Signing and Film Screening, National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Awards Luncheon and Welcome Reception, Pillar Awards Presentations, and Solidarity Dinner.

Zena Crenshaw-Logal, Executive Director the National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, which administers Drum Majors for Truth, an association of post-secondary students for effective whistleblower protection, adds “We are honored to co-host this year's Whistleblower Summit and Conference on Human and Civil Rights. Our role as a summit co-sponsor allows us to honor the real life people risking and, in too many cases, sacrificing their personal well being to help protect the American Dream for generations to come.

“DM4T members are pro-American Dream which moves closer to being an illusion through unchecked acts of government waste, fraud, and abuse. Our message is simple: serious public and private sector misconduct needs to be put in check; not those who seek to expose that corruption in good faith.”    

The event opens at the Stewart R. Mott House on Capitol Hill with a symbolic “Empty Chair” welcome honoring courageous whistleblowers who could not be present due to retaliatory imprisonment, untimely death or increased prosecution under the Obama Administration.
The group will meet on July 30, 2014 or “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” for frank discussions about whistleblowing post Edward Snowden and civil rights enforcement under the age of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

The general public, all whistleblowers and their advocates, as well as the entire civil rights and human rights communities were invited to participate. The conference theme is—Is It Right? From Black Farmers and USDA employees who reported “pink slime” in our food supply, to NSA whistleblowers reporting domestic surveillance on the American people—Whistleblowers Protect People.

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but we must take it because our conscience tells us that it is right.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael McCray, Whistleblower Summit organizer declares, “I want to thank Pacifica Foundation and Code Pink for continuing support of the Whistleblower Summit on Civil and Human Rights. Our partners are increasing, growing stronger and more diverse. Their commitment to supporting Whistleblowers and First Amendment Rights advocates is strengthening.”

In 2010, the Pacifica National Board voted unanimously to support legislation that would protect Whistleblowers and Free Speech. Consequently, the Pacifica Radio Network was the first national media organization to formalize its support for Whistleblowers. As in previous years, the Pacifica Foundation will support this years Whistleblower Summit for in Washington, DC.

Marcel Reid, Pacifica Whistleblower Liaison adds, “Gloria Minot, of WPFW will moderate the conference this year and we congratulate the next class of Pillar Award for Human Rights recipients.”

Carolyn Lerner, Special Counsel will be honored for the miraculous transformation of the Office of Special Counsel under her leadership. This is the first time a Pillar Award will be presented to an Executive for “Government Reform.”

Another first, Joseph Nacchio former CEO of Qwest Communications will be presented with the first Pillar Award for “Corporate Responsibility” for taking a stand for Internet Privacy, and who was retaliated against by the Internal Revenue Service after he refused to capitulate to NSA demands for customer records.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will receive the Pillar Award for fighting legislation that would roll back key parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The Dodd-Frank Act put in place a variety of measures that work together as a system to protect consumers, hold big banks accountable, and reduce the risk of future crises. The legislation targets derivatives, complex financial contracts that fueled the 2008 financial crisis.

The Honorable Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) will be honored for their sponsorship of H.R. 4197 “All Circuits Review Extension Act.” And the Honorable Jackie Speier (R-CA) will be honored with a Pillar Award for her ardent support for civil and human rights for women and sponsorship of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act.

The Pillar is awarded to notable civil and human rights champions; previous recipients include Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-IA), Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Below is a partial list of highlights from the Whistleblower Summit.

Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights—Highlights

  •     Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA).
  •     Senator "Chuck" Grassley sponsored new resolution dedicating National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
  •     Raise public awareness and place Whistleblowing in its proper historical context i.e., an act of patriotism sanctioned by the Continental Congress.
  •     First ever Pillar Awards presented for Government Reform and Corporate Responsibility to Carolyn Lerner, U.S Special Counsel and Quest Media.
  •     Announced new strategies for implementing the Whistleblower Protection and Enhancement Act (WPEA).
  •     EEOC Stakeholders to present EEOC Obstacles to Employment rebuttal report.
  •     Whistleblower Book Signing and Film Screening at Teaching for Change’s Busboys and Poets.
  •     National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Award Luncheon and Welcome Reception.

This event is open to the public but please RSVP to attend the National Whistleblower Appreciation Awards Luncheon. For more information and/or to RSVP please visit http://www.WhistleblowerSummit.com

The MISC is as assortment of various public interest/advocacy groups including the ACORN 8, the Government Accountability Project, the International Association of Whistleblowers, the American Federation of Government Employees, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, the No FEAR Coalition, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Voices for Corporate Responsibility, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters. MISC members focus on significant areas of public concern and individual rights, such as First Amendment, federal workforce, medical safety, national security, judicial reform, etc.

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Michael McCray
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Marcel Reid
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