“Ag-gag” law violates free speech rights of whistle-blowers, rules federal judge


A federal judge declared unconstitutional Monday an anti-whistleblower law in Idaho that criminalized audiovisual recordings of agricultural production facilities. In the decision, Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote that Idaho Code § 18-7042 “not only restricts more speech than necessary, it poses a particularly serious threat to whistleblowers’ free speech rights” under the First Amendment.

[T}he statute circumvents long-established defamation law and whistleblowing statutes by punishing employees for publishing true and accurate recordings on matters of public concern. The expansive reach of this statute is hard to reconcile with basic speech, whistleblower, and press rights.

Judge blocks Justice Department effort to shortchange whistleblower


“Graffiti” derived from a work by John Taylor (CC) at Flickr.com

When the U.S. Department of Justice accepted a $192.7 million settlement from Endo Pharmaceuticals for “a decade’s worth of fraud that ripped off Medicare and Medicaid for over $700 million dollars,” it left Endo with a generous profit from the alleged wrongdoing. But, when it came to rewarding the whistleblower who built the government’s case, Justice put on its Ebeneezer Scrooge spectacles and offered her “barely more than the minimum 15% required by law.”

Bomb threat interrupts TSA whistleblower hearing testimony


A Senate hearing in the Dirksen Office Building ended abruptly after someone called in a bomb threat to U.S. Capitol Police. Reportedly, a bomb had been placed in the room next to the hearing room. When word came to evacuate the hearing room, members of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs were listening to testimony from whistleblower Robert MacLean about TSA management failures that threatened aviation security. Sen. Ron Johnson, who chaired the hearing, later said the threat was determined to be false.

Whistleblowers and the prosecution loophole


(Commentary) by Shanna Devine (Government Accountability Project) and Liz Hempowicz (Project on Government Oversight)

Published in The HIll, March 12, 2015

When facing the prospect of criminal prosecution for leaking highly classified material to his mistress and later lying about it to the FBI, General David Petraeus found unlikely allies on Capitol Hill. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) have all spoken out against criminally prosecuting the four-star general, in part because they feel he has “suffered enough.” This is not the first time that a high-ranking individual may skirt punishment for infractions that would land a subordinate in jail for years. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was also recently allegedly involved in highly classified leaks to the film producers of Zero Dark Thirty and treated with near impunity.

VA whistleblowers describe continuing reprisals


At an April 13 hearing, members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs heard testimony from whistleblowers who confirmed that retaliation continues at medical facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. At a previous hearing, on July 8, 2014, whistleblowers described retaliation for reporting inadequate medical services to veterans.

Dr. Maryann Hooker, a VA neurologist, described reprisals that targeted individuals who spoke favorably about whistleblowers as well as the whistleblowers themselves.