WASHINGTON – On the 25th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act, Senator Chuck Grassley is announcing his plans to create a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.
Grassley said he’s creating the caucus to build a coalition of like-minded Senators who can help bring attention to the need for ongoing whistleblower protections. Over the next six months, Grassley will be discussing the caucus with colleagues and encouraging them to join with an eye on an official start in the new Congress.
“Whistleblower protections are only worth anything if they’re enforced. Just because we’ve passed good laws does not mean we can stop paying attention to the issue. There must be vigilant oversight by Congress. The best protection for a whistleblower is a culture of understanding and respecting the right to blow the whistle,” Grassley said. “I hope this whistleblower caucus will send the message that Congress expects that kind of culture.”
Grassley added, “Whistleblowers are often treated like skunks at a picnic. It takes guts to put your career on the line to expose waste and fraud, and whistleblowers need senators who will listen and advocate for them.”
A long-time advocate for whistleblowers, Grassley has stood up against the heavy hand of the bureaucracy, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats were in charge, for individual whistleblowers from the Pentagon, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the IRS, the Interior Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In addition to co-authoring the 1989 whistleblower law, Grassley also authored the 1986 update of the False Claims Act to include qui tam provisions that empower private citizens, who had information about fraudulent activity by government contractors, to bring wrongdoing forward and sue in the name of the government. To date, these whistleblower provisions have recovered nearly $40 billion for taxpayers that otherwise would be lost to fraud.
In 2009, Grassley and Senator Patrick Leahy won passage of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act which made the most significant improvements to the False Claims Act since 1986. The law restores the scope and applicability of the False Claims Act where it had been limited by court decisions. This effort also revised criminal laws to help prosecute mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and complex financial crimes that led to the 2008 financial crisis.
In addition, Grassley authored the 2006 overhaul of the IRS whistleblower program to fight major tax fraud. The IRS has recently paid out several awards, but has acknowledged, after scrutiny from Grassley, that the agency must be more timely and responsive in processing whistleblower claims.