In December 2018, President Trump nominated a radical anti-whistleblower advocate to be the new U.S. Attorney General of the United States. The National Whistleblower Center learned that in 1998 and again in 2002, William Barr made statements in which he strongly opposed the highly successful qui tam whistleblower provisions in the False Claims Act.
The National Whistleblower Center immediately issued a press release and an action alert to call attention to Barr’s history of hostility toward the False Claims Act.
On January 13, 2019, The Hill published an op-ed by NWC Executive Director, Stephen M. Kohn, which detailed Barr’s troubling history with whistleblowers.
In the op-ed, NWC Co-President Stephen M. Kohn explained,
“While serving as Assistant Attorney General under the first President Bush, Barr authored an infamous memorandum arguing that the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act were unconstitutional. Barr stood alone among top Justice Department officials in vehemently opposing the whistleblower law. His arguments were rejected by President Bush’s Solicitor General, Attorney General, and all subsequent key leaders within the DOJ. But years after leaving office, and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the False Claims Act was constitutional, Barr continued his constitutional criticisms of the False Claims Act, attacking the whistleblower provisions as an “abomination.”
The NWC issued another action alert on January 14, 2019, calling for Barr to be questioned regarding his attacks against whistleblowers during his confirmation hearing scheduled for the next day.
This grassroots effort by the NWC’s Action Alert Network members was a success! In the opening moments of questioning, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked Barr about his position on the FCA and whistleblowers. In response, Barr renounced his prior position. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr unequivocally repudiated his previous opposition and pledged to “diligently enforce the False Claims Act.”