Elijah E. Cummings, a Democratic congressman from Maryland who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died early Thursday morning at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate in Baltimore. He was 68.
He honored the nonpartisan nature of whistleblowing and worked in close partnership with his Republican colleagues to strengthen protections for our nation’s truth-tellers. As co-chair of the House Whistleblower Protection Caucus, he partnered with co-chair Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and other Caucus members to foster a more positive culture around whistleblowing.
In the Congressman’s capacity as Ranking Member and then Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he set Congress’ gold-standard for safely working with whistleblowers to conduct its oversight responsibilities. Indeed, he understood that whistleblowers come forward at great personal risk, and Congress must do everything in its power to protect its most valuable sources against government waste, fraud, abuse and other misconduct.
This summer, Cummings offered this statement in honor of National Whistleblower Day:
This year marks 241th anniversary of the enactment of America’s first whistleblower protection law and the 30th anniversary of The Whistleblower Protection Act. On this day, I’d like to on a very special group of individuals within the federal community — the men and women who risk everything to disclose waste fraud and abuse in the federal government. Without legal protections, whistleblowers would suffer retaliation and without these courageous individuals, Congress would not be able to fulfill its constitutional duty to serve as a check and balance on the executive branch, the very foundation of our democracy. As co-chair of the House whistleblower protection caucus and chairman of the oversight committee, I’m personally grateful to the dedication and commitment of whistleblowers because my committee would not be able to conduct oversight investigations without them. Although Congress has made significant progress in protecting the brave souls who shine a light on corruption in the federal government, we cannot rest on our laurels. That’s why I’m working on introducing legislation in this Congress that would further strengthen protections for whistleblowers and improve enforcement of existing law to prevent and address retaliation.
From his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the Maryland Democratic Party chairwoman: He was “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility…He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”
I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children, and your children’s children, and generations yet unborn we’ve got to guard this moment…this is our watch. pic.twitter.com/ShTZwbQROP
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