FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Tara McGuinness
WASHINGTON, DC - Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security Committees and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), a member of the Government Reform Committee, today 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. The protections offered in the legislation are modeled upon those provided by Congress in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to employees of companies who report accounting fraud.
"Congress has given employees of Enron or WorldCom who reported accounting fraud better whistleblower protections than we give FBI employees, TSA baggage screeners, or port employees who report serious risks to homeland and national security," said Rep. Markey. "Whistleblowers are modern-day Paul Reveres. When they voice concerns over our nation's national security, we should listen to them, not silence them."
"We all know the saying 'The truth shall set you free.' This administration has taken that old adage to a new level -- the truth will truly set you free, because you will be fired," said Rep. Maloney. "The men and women who work in national security are among our most trusted citizens. They have been trusted to handle the most classified material, yet this administration dismisses them if they uncover corruption. Whistleblowers are true patriots, not enemies of the state.
While Congress provided whistleblower rights to protect shareholders, it has failed miserably to provide whistleblower rights to protect 280 million American citizens. Instead, these modern day Paul Reveres who do the right thing and report homeland and national security flaws, threats to public health and safety or waste, fraud and mismanagement involving taxpayer dollars get fired. They are blacklisted from getting other jobs. They go broke. Their lives are ruined.
The legislation introduced today contains the following provisions:
· If ANY federal employee, federal contractor or subcontractor, or a corporate employee is retaliated against for reporting a national or homeland security concern, threat to public health and safety, or fraud, waste or mismanagement to their employer, GAO, a government Agency or Congress, they can file a complaint with the Department of Labor.
· If the Department of Labor doesn't act on the case within 6 months, they can bring a case in district court and are entitled to compensatory damages such as reinstatement, back pay and legal fees, and punitive damages.
· If the government prevents the case from being heard because it asserts its State Secrets privilege, then judgment will be automatically in favor of the whistleblower so they can move forward with their lives free of the stigma the retaliation against them brings.
· It will also be made a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison to engage in such retaliation.
Rep. Markey has been a long-time advocate of whistleblowers - to find more information on his work to protect whistleblowers check out: http://markey.house.gov/