Co-Founders, National Whistleblower Center
On July 30th, 1778, our Founding Fathers unanimously passed America’s first whistleblower protection law. This visionary action, taken during the height of the American Revolution, stands today as a testament to the importance of whistleblowing throughout our history.
Just as our Founding Fathers put aside their political differences to support whistleblowers, we must do the same today. On National Whistleblower Day, we should reflect on the historic contributions whistleblowers have made to America’s democracy. It is a day to remember that laws like the False Claims Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act protect all Americans from fraud, corruption, and retaliation; and it is a day to reach out to members of Congress to remind them to protect these vital laws.
The Founding Fathers enacted a visionary whistleblower law. They not only passed what very well could be the first whistleblower law in the world, but they also voted to provide attorneys, free-of-charge, to defend whistleblowers unjustly charged with libel. This exemplary law, which set the stage for future whistleblower laws in the United States, must be celebrated.
Our movement to recognize National Whistleblower Day as a formal day of remembrance throughout the federal government has made much progress since we first uncovered the 1778 resolution and the history behind that law. The Whistleblower’s Handbook chronicled this story in print for the first time.
In 2013, based on these historic findings and tireless advocacy to recognize this important day, the Senate passed the first of numerous resolutions calling upon the federal government to honor and celebrate Whistleblower Day (see resolutions from 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016). Another resolution has been introduced for 2017, backed by the entire Senate Whistleblower Caucus, and the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is expected to pass by unanimous consent. This year numerous whistleblower advocates, Members of Congress and members of the executive branch of government have celebrated National Whistleblower Day in a series of events public events held in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
The need for all whistleblowers and champions of whistleblowers to unite and advocate for whistleblower protections has never been greater. The threats are real:
- The House of Representatives passed the Choice Act, which includes a major attack on the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower protections. If passed, this law will strip from coverage most whistleblowers with critical information about Wall Street fraud.
- The Chamber of Commerce has asked the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court decision that holds whistleblowers who report internally to their managers cannot be fired.
- The Departments of Treasury and Justice have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to undermine the IRS tax fraud whistleblower law. These agencies are asking the courts to strip the current protections for whistleblowers whose reports result in the criminal prosecution of tax cheats.
- Federal employees still cannot have their cases heard in federal court, and actions to protect national security and FBI whistleblowers have stalled.
- The Departments of Interior, Commerce, Treasury, and Agriculture have failed to implement wildlife protection whistleblower laws critical to halting the extinction crisis.
There is power in history. No one can deny that support for whistleblowers was central to our Founding Father’s vision of democracy. This history must be celebrated, and used as a vehicle to change culture and law to continue to empower the courageous men and women who speak out against fraud and corruption. We encourage Congress to move beyond symbolically recognizing National Whistleblower Day, and enact a law mandating that every federal agency recognize July 30th as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. This law must require these agencies to call public attention to the significant contributions whistleblowers have made to our Democracy throughout U.S. history and celebrate the contributions and sacrifices of these American hero’s.
The linked column from the New York Times fully recounts the history of National Whistleblower Day, and why we must celebrate July 30th.
A copy of the July 30, 1778 resolution is linked here.