Attorney General nominee William Barr this morning committed to “diligently uphold” the False Claims Act during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination.
Under questioning from Sen. Chuck Grassley, Barr said the constitutionality of the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Grassley asked: “If confirmed do you commit to not take action to undermine the False Claims Act? Further if confirmed will you continue Justice department staff and funding levels to to properly pursue and and prosecute cases under the FCA?”
Barr: “Yes, I will diligently enforce the False Claims Act.”
National Whistleblower Center (NWC) Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn issued the following statement:
“Mr. Barr has now reversed his prior opposition to the False Claims Act. This is a major victory for all whistleblowers. A precedent has been set, Any person who seeks a position of authority in the Department of Justice must unequivocally commit to protecting whistleblowers and working with whistleblowers under the qui tam provisions of federal law in order to effectively fight fraud.” Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director, National Whistleblower Center.
Grassley’s questioning of Barr began at about 10:30.
Grassley: Is the False Claims Act unconstitutional?
Barr: No, Senator. It’s been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Grassley: Do you consider the False Claims Act to be an abomination?
Barr: No, I don’t.
Grassley: Does the False Claims Act benefit the taxpayer specifically its provisions to empower and protect whistleblowers?
Barr: Yes, Senator.
Grassley: If confirmed, do you commit to not take any actions to undermine the False Claims Act; further if confirmed, will you continue current justice department staff and funding levels to properly support and prosecute False Claims Act cases?
Barr: Yes, I will diligently enforce the False Claims Act.
The National Whistleblower Center sent out an early statement of concern over Barr’s opposition to the FCA . Subsequently, a group of FCA attorneys sent a letter to Senator Grassley. In addition, the Make it Safe Coalition, a group of leading whistleblower rights advocacy organizations, including the NWC, Public Citizen and the Government Accountability Project, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing concerns over Barr’s position on the FCA.
NWC Executive Director published a detailed column in The Hill setting forth in detail Barr’ former position on the FCA, and why it was unsupportable in law and policy. That column linked to Barr’s prior memo in opposition to the FCA.
Finally, the NWC issued an “Action Alert” calling upon its members to write to their Members of Congress, urging them to question Barr on his commitment to qui tam and the False Claims Act, and ensure that he will fully defend that law.