The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Michael D. Kohn
Stephen M. Kohn
David K. Colapinto
(202) 342-6980
Sam Dratch
(202) 342-1903

Contractor-Whistleblowers Win Big Victory In Stimulus Bill

Federal Employees Still Denied Coverage


In the final stimulus package
approved by House-Senate conference, Congress approved a critical
whistleblower protection amendment introduced by Senator Claire
McCaskill (D-MO). The McCaskill amendment corrected major defects in
the original Senate Bill, and provides protections for private
contractors and state and local government workers who blow the whistle
on waste, fraud, and abuse in stimulus spending.

Under the
McCaskill Amendment, state and local government workers and private
contractors who expose corruption in stimulus spending are fully
protected. If fired in retaliation for exposing wrongdoing they can
obtain: reinstatement, back pay and compensatory damages. They can
also present their claims in federal court and seek a jury trial. The
law protects internal whistleblowing to supervisors, and prevents
companies from misusing employment agreements
to stifle employee disclosures. A copy of the McCaskill Amendment is
attached here.

House and Senate did not reach agreement to protect federal employee
whistleblowers. Federal employees obtained no protection whatsoever in
the Stimulus Bill.

"Congress has started to listen. The
public must redouble its efforts and obtain universal whistleblower
protection coverage for all American workers who blow the whistle on
any abusive spending or corruption concerning taxpayer dollars. The
law must ensure strict oversight and accountability, starting with
protecting all workers who witness fraud and
report it to the proper authorities," said Michael Kohn, General
Counsel of the National Whistleblower Center and an attorney for
Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse.

Greenhouse is a
former top Army Corps of Engineers contracts manager, and was the only
high-level government official who opposed the no-bid multi-billion
dollar contract awarded to Halliburton/KBR for the "Reconstruction of
Iraq." Greenhouse's opposition to that contract was fully vindicated.
This month Halliburton/KBR agreed to pay over $500 million dollars
after admitting to bribing officials in Iraq.

had issued a strong public statement endorsing both the McCaskill
Amendment and the Platts-Van Hollen Amendment (covering federal
employees). Today, she has issued another appeal urging Congress to
act quickly to fix the loophole in coverage and enact full coverage for
federal employees.

McCaskill Amendment link
Greenhouse Letter Link

Since 1988, the NWC and attorneys associated with it have supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress and achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability.