Barr Retracts Prior Opposition to the False Claims Act Whistleblower Law

Published on January 15, 2019

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Attorney General Nominee Supports Whistleblowers in Senate Testimony

Washington, D.C. January 15, 2019.  During today’s confirmation hearing, Attorney General nominee William Barr retracted his prior opposition to the False Claims Act whistleblower law.

In 1998 again in 2002 Barr had strongly opposed the highly successful qui tam whistleblower provisions in the False Claims Act, referring to the law as an “abomination.” His opposition to the FCA was strongly condemned by whistleblower advocates.  However, after years of experience under the law, top Democratic and Republican officials strongly endorsed the law and praised whistleblowers as the key force in detecting fraud.

At today’s hearing Mr. Barr unequivocally repudiated his prior opposition and pledged to strongly support the law.  Questioned by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr pledged to “diligently enforce the False Claims Act.”

His relevant testimony, in full, was as follows:

Grassley:         Is the False Claims Act unconstitutional?

Barr:                No, Senator. It’s been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Grassley:         Do you consider the False Claims Act to be an abomination?

Barr:                No, I don’t.

Grassley:         Does the False Claims Act benefit the taxpayer specifically its provisions to empower and protect whistleblowers?

Barr:                Yes, Senator.

Grassley:         If confirmed, do you commit to not take any actions to undermine the False Claims Act; further if confirmed, will you continue current justice department staff and funding levels to properly support and prosecute False Claims Act cases?

Barr:                Yes, I will diligently enforce the False Claims Act.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, stated as follows:  “Barr’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers major step forward for accountability in government.”

“The significance of Barr’s commitment to enforcing the False Claim Act’s whistleblower provisions cannot be underestimated.  The Justice Department’s partnership with whistleblowers in fighting fraud has led to over $40 billion in collections from fraudsters who tried to steal from the taxpayer,” Kohn said

“Our voices were heard.  The NWC, along with other whistleblower advocates, raised an alarm over Barr’s prior positions that were hostile to whistleblowers.  We are pleased that Barr has changed his position, and we will hold him accountable for fulfilling this under oath commitment,” Kohn added.

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