Today is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. On this day in 1778 the Continental Congress passed what very well could be the world’s first whistleblower law. Our revolutionary forefathers, when they learned that two whistleblowers that had exposed misconduct by the highest-ranking U.S. naval official, were being prosecuted in the State of Rhode Island, agreed to act. They voted to spend precious monies from the new government’s treasury to ensure that the whistleblowers had lawyers to defend them. They voted to release all of the naval records documenting the whistleblower’s concerns.
Finally, the Founding Fathers, on July 30, 1778 passed our nation’s first whistleblower law. It’s message was clear and the vote was unanimous: “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 these states, which may come to their knowledge."
The history behind this historic day was lost. However, fifteen years ago, when the National Whistleblower Center’s Executive Director Stephen Kohn was researching materials for an amicus brief filed by the NWC supporting the constitutionality of the False Claims Act, he discovered this law. He then carefully researched why our Founding Fathers enacted the resolution, and learned the details of America’s first whistleblower case. He reviewed the letters the whistleblowers wrote in jail pleading their case to the revolutionary Congress. He obtained from the National Archives a copy of the check the Continental Congress wrote to Sam Adams, honoring Congress’ agreement to pay the costs of the whistleblower’s defense.
This history was spelled out for the first time in The Whistleblower’s Handbook. When Senator Charles Grassley learned of this historic event, he worked in a bi-partisan manner with Senator Levin to ensure that this day would be honored. On July 30, 2013 the U.S. Senate enacted their Joint Resolution recognizing National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
Today, we call on all citizens of the world to honor National Appreciation Whistleblower Day. To remember the sacrifices whistleblowers have endured to protect the public interest. To demand that their governments rise to the call of justice for which our Founding Fathers did, while fighting a war for the very survival or our nation, on that day, July 30th, 1778.
The National Whistleblower Center
When you make a donation of $15 or more to support the National Whistleblower Center* today, July 30, 2014, you will receive a copy of The Whistleblower's Handbook as our gift in honor of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
*Please note the donation links take you to the National Whistleblower Center's secure donation page.
Requests that the Hearing Scheduled for July 30, 2014 Present Balanced Testimony
Washington, D.C. July 25, 2014. Today the National Whistleblower Center released a new report entitled “Saving America's 'Most Important Tool to Uncover and Punish Fraud.'” The report rebuts arguments being raised by the Chamber of Commerce as part of its aggressive lobbying campaign to undercut and weaken the False Claims Act.
The FCA is widely acknowledged as America’s most effective anti-fraud law. It encourages whistleblowers to report fraud in government contracting, and results in the recovery of billions of dollars every year from fraudulent government contractors. The Chamber is preparing to testify at an upcoming hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in order to pave the way for Congress to weaken the FCA.
“Why would anyone want to undermine the key law protecting taxpayer’s money? Why would anyone want to destroy a key anti-fraud law? The Chamber of Commerce is doing the bidding for corrupt contractors, some of which have engaged in bid-rigging, illegal marketing of unapproved drugs, and selling unsafe bullet proof vests to police. In a recent FCA case the Chamber filed papers in court to keep secret company files that fully documented widespread corruption in a major defense contract,” said Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center and the author of the NWC’s rebuttal report.
“No member of Congress should support the Chamber’s misguided and misleading campaign to weaken America’s most important anti-fraud law. Currently, the House Judiciary Committee will not permit representatives from the National Whistleblower Center to testify. This should be corrected, and the NWC should be permitted to present it report to the full committee,” Kohn added.
Ruling Protecting Testimony Before Federal Grand Juries Will
Have Widespread Impact On Fraud Investigations
Washington, D.C. June 19, 2014. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark whistleblower decision in the case of Lane v. Franks. The Court held that truthful testimony before a federal Grand Jury is "clearly" protected speech under the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court in an unanimous decision recognized the "importance" of protecting speech when "public corruption" is at issue, acknowledging that corruption cases "often require testimony" from government employees willing to blow the whistle on their managers. Demonstrating an awareness of the dilemma facing employees who witness fraud, the Court held that the failure to protect whistleblowers from retaliation "would place public employees who witness corruption in an impossible position, torn between the obligation to testify truthfully and the desire to avoid retaliation and keep their jobs."
In a statement issued today, Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, said: "Given the widespread use of Grand Jury proceedings to investigate securities, banking and tax fraud, today's ruling will have widespread impact. It will have a direct and major impact on the willingness of public employees to expose corruption in government."
SOX whistleblower protection covers
mutual fund industry
Washington, D.C. March 4, 2014. The
U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Lawson v. FMR, LLC, that
contractors and subcontractors of publicly traded companies are fully
protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for corporate whistleblowers.
Significantly, in today's decision the
Supreme Court explicitly held that investment advisors and other
"independent contractors" employed in the mutual fund industry
are fully protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower
provisions. The Supreme Court's ruling reversed a lower court
holding excluding the mutual fund industry from protection under
In her majority opinion, on page 20, Justice Ginsburg explained that her ruling "avoids insulating the entire mutual fund industry from" the corporate whistleblower law. Justice Ginsburg also explained that these mutual funds manage $14.7 trillion dollars, on behalf of "nearly 94 million investors."
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, released the following statement regarding the importance of this decision:
“This is a big win for corporate whistleblowers. This is a big win for every person who invests money through mutual funds. The Supreme Court closed a potentially devastating loop hole in corporate whistleblower protection. By ruling that contractors and subcontractors of publicly traded companies are fully protected under the corporate whistleblower provisions, the Court has put an end to the popular shell game which large companies use try to silence whistleblowers.”
The National Whistleblower Center filed
a friend of the court brief before the Supreme Court in this case and
has been instrumental in defending the Sarbanes-Oxley Act from
corporate attempts to undermine its effectiveness.
Mr. Kohn is available for further
comment on this decision. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
to set up an interview.
Read the decision: Lawson v. FMR, LLC