In recent times, it seems as if federal whistleblowers are in the news more than ever. From last year’s Ukraine whistleblower to COVID-19 whistleblowers like Dr. Rick Bright to the nurse whistleblower alleging mass hysterectomies at ICE facilities, all sorts of federal employees and contractors are risking their livelihoods to bring the truth to the American public.
At the same time, the Trump administration has waged war upon federal whistleblowers in attempts to discredit those who have come forward with allegations of government misconduct and silence those who may do so in the future. President Trump has retaliated against and disparaged federal whistleblowers during his first term, hamstrung the Merits Systems Protection Board, and removed Inspector Generals. In doing so, the President has threatened to turn whistleblowing into a partisan issue. However, a newly published poll reveals that an overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of political party affiliation, support stronger protections for federal whistleblowers.
The poll, published by Whistleblower Network News and conducted by Marist, asked Americans a straightforward question: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: There should be stronger legal protections from harm for whistleblowers who are federal employees who report fraud in government programs.”
The results reveal unequivocal support for stronger whistleblower protections for federal whistleblowers. 86% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement. This number rises to 94% for respondents who identify as Democrats and remains a notably high 78% for Republicans. The American people have made their stance clear: they stand with federal employees who expose fraud and misconduct at the highest levels. Retaliation against whistleblowers is not acceptable.
Whistleblowers must be protected.
The current legislation offering whistleblower protections for federal employees is clearly not strong enough. The main law with protections for federal employee whistleblowers is the Whistleblower Protection Act, originally passed 1978 and amended three times to address its problems and inefficiencies. Problems persist, however, and, as a whole, whistleblower laws protecting federal employees are weaker than those protecting corporate whistleblowers. Perhaps most notably, it is almost impossible for federal whistleblowers to access federal court jury trials.
Congress is meant to serve the interests of the American people. And this polling data reveals where the American people’s interests lie concerning federal whistleblowers. Federal whistleblowers are American heroes, and Congress and the federal government must do everything in its power to protect these heroes.
Read Dr. Whitehurst’s Whistleblower of the Week Profile