Allison Gill was born in Tallmadge, Ohio, a bedroom community of Akron. In 1980-1981, when Gill was eight years old, her family moved to Phoenix. Gill went to middle school, high school, and college while in Phoenix, also attending Northern Arizona University.
Gill’s father was in the Air Force when he was assigned to Syracuse for an intensive Russian language program and subsequently lived with a Russian family. He was posted to Air Force Intelligence and married Gill’s mother. Both parents reported to Wheeler Air Force Base in Hawaii. Gill’s mother worked at Wheeler Air Force Base as a librarian; she and her husband had high-level security clearances.
Her father worked in “enemy territory” during the Vietnam war and was exposed to Agent Orange. Her father died in 1990 at the age of 46 due to the effects of Agent Orange. Gill’s parents were highly intelligent, and it is reflected in Gill, who was a superior student in every facet of education she undertook. Gill’s parents were also musically inclined, and her father’s talents influenced Gill in music, mathematics, and his sense of humor. Her mother was a singer and a set designer, “very intense,” and Arizona’s Woman of the Year multiple times. Mrs. Gill had a considerable political influence on her daughter, taking her to the polls when she was young. Currently, her mother is actively involved in political races. Gill stated that her mother was an “incredible influence on my politics and my business…my business sense.” Gill’s father introduced her to comedy at a “very young age, playing me records from Steve Martin and probably inappropriate records from George Carlin, and Jonathan Winters and the like.” Gill has one sibling, a sister who lives abroad and has a master’s in physics.
Gill refers to her younger self as a “nerd…a mathlete.” She went to accelerated learning classes, chess tournaments, and spelling bees. She joined Mensa and was very academically focused. But while at college, she ran out of money and joined the military. Gill came from a military family that could be traced back to World War I, and patriotism runs deep through her veins.
When Gill was recruited, her testing was high enough to be accepted into the Navy’s nuclear program, which was looking for women. Gill was one of the first four enlisted women at the Nuclear Power Training program in Orlando, Florida. While at a party, Gill was drugged and sexually assaulted by another military member. She reported the rape to her superior and was subjected to an interrogation that was humiliating and demeaning. That interrogation was followed up by a discussion of the “perils of filing a false rape allegation, and they said if you filed a false claim, you could lose your school, you could be court-martialed, you could be drummed out of the Navy, you could have a dishonorable discharge, you could be charged with adultery” (because her rapist was married). Gill was pressured to drop any pursuit of justice for her rape. Gill suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), and the source of her trauma was the sexual assault and subsequent botched handling of the rape complaint. Gill finished Nuclear Power school, but shortly afterward was found to have a medical condition with her feet, which resulted in a medical discharge.
Gill relocated to San Diego, California, finished her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science, and in 1999 started working for Sprint. In 2002, Gill got her master’s degree at National University and then took a few years off, touring with a band. She re-entered the workforce, employed in hotel/restaurant management, until 2008, when she responded to Barack Obama’s call for citizens to join the government.
Gill was hired as an entry-level clerk (G.S. 5) at the San Diego Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and was promoted to a G.S. 9 shortly afterward. She became a VA call center supervisor until 2012 when she was recruited by the Los Angeles VA Health System to “help build their call center and help develop their health administration service.” Gill was then promoted to a G.S. 12. After three years, Gill was the outpatient clinic operations chief and a G.S. 13.
During her time in San Diego and Los Angeles, Gill became a successful comedian and entertainer, winning many awards. In her job, Gill was in charge of about 300 medical support assistants, putting together the Los Angeles VA call center and all of the contract clinics for the greater Los Angeles VA health system. At night Gill was doing comedy, and at no time did anyone mention that as a government employee, Gill could not do comedy work, in which she was highly successful. Gill appeared in a movie, a 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War, which dealt with the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military, a shameful and well-hidden secret.
A VA job opened up for Gill in San Diego that had previously been headquartered in Aurora, Colorado: the job was to be the liaison for the VA to the Department of Defense TRICARE office. There were three TRICARE offices, one in Washington, D.C., one in San Antonio, and one in San Diego. If you are a service member or a family member, “you get TRICARE, and one of the network providers is the VA so you can get your care at the VA,” said Gill. Gill’s job was to ensure that there was no fraud by private health insurance companies. The Department of Defense (DOD) paid the VA claims. Gill was recouping money for veterans, providing oversight for being a network provider for the TRICARE provider, and answering any questions the DOD had for the VA. Gill had many different jobs, and “always got outstanding reviews, always got full bonuses.”
Gill was offered the San Diego Liaison job at a G.S. 14 and relocated. She advised that in 2015, she was in “her dream job, and finishing up her Ph.D. in Health Administration.” Gill stated that working hard was her way of coping with PTSD. She recovered anywhere from $80 to $130 million a year for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Before the 2016 election, Gill wanted to run as “a delegate for Bernie Sanders,” and talked to her supervisor, who spoke to his superior, and relayed back that a delegate did not run afoul of the Hatch Act. Gill got written permission to run for the delegate position, which ultimately, she lost.
In early 2017, Gill received an email telling her that the Office of General Counsel (OGC) in D.C. had pulled her employee records. Gill asked her office why OGC had pulled her personnel records. She was told, “We can’t tell you, but by law, we have to inform you that the OGC is requesting your records.” Gill’s supervisor was in the process of retiring and asked her if she wanted to replace him in D.C., but she advised him that she had no interest in relocating to the East Coast.
On November 1, 2017, Gill started her first podcast, Mueller, She Wrote, out of her kitchen. The description for the podcast is: “Mueller, She Wrote is a binder full of women unraveling the mysteries of the Mueller investigation. Join us each week as your hosts simplify the absurd amount of Mueller news and wrap it up into informative, hilarious bites. MSW is committed to separating the facts from conjecture with just the right amount of snark. COME FOR THE NEWS, STAY FOR THE FANTASY INDICTMENT DRAFT!”
Gill stated that around the same time she began the podcast, she had seen a documentary about Watergate called “All the President’s Men Revisited.” “It was not lost on me the historic nature of this investigation, of Russia interfering in our election, that Trump being under investigation for that, and obstructing justice, and I thought to myself, I bet in twenty, thirty years, forty years they are going to be doing documentaries on the Mueller investigation, and I want to be a part of that,” Gill stated.
The podcast started in 2017 and ran for three seasons spanning two and a half years. Mueller, She Wrote, also conducted a sold-out 13- city tour. The podcast and shows were popular and featured commentators involved in the Mueller investigation universe. Additionally, the podcast and tour work was all done on Gill’s own time and never occurred during her working hours at the VA. She utilized no VA equipment, no office supplies, or anything related to the VA, and did not use her real name in any podcasts or touring dates. Her shows had 250,000 people in the audience and 600,000 podcast downloads per month. As an accomplished comedian, Gill had the ability to use stinging humor to lance the pomposity, the inflated egos, the idiocracy of politicians and their pathological followers, including the President.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued an updated Hatch Act guidance for federal employees on March 5, 2018, after President Trump officially announced his candidacy for reelection in 2020. It noted as follows: “This guidance reminds federal employees that the Hatch Act prohibits a federal employee from engaging in political activity while on duty or in a federal room or building. For purposes of the Hatch Act, political activity is defined as activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, partisan political group, or candidate for partisan political office.” The guidance also states that “the prohibition is broad and encompasses more than displays or communications (including in-person and via email or social media) that expressly advocate for or against President Trump’s reelection. For example, while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns; use hashtags such as #MAGA or #ResistTrump in social media posts or other forums; or display non-official pictures of President Trump.”
Gill wondered if the OGC “were looking for something to get rid of her because she was a Democrat, a non-loyalist.” It has been historically true that there has been selective prosecution of the Hatch Act. Gill was a political creature who loved doing her podcasts and live shows, and she instructed her staff not to run afoul of the Hatch Act in their social media posts: she also hired a lawyer to guide her through the intricacies of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is very simple: if you are a federal worker, you can’t use your agency as a platform for your political beliefs.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is one of the biggest offenders of the Hatch Act by continually advocating for the reelection of President Trump while appearing in official media appearances and criticizing Democrats while working as an official of the White House. “Blah, blah, blah,” Conway told reporters in June of 2019. “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.” Of course, with the final arbiter of a Hatch Act violation for Conway being President Trump, the Hatch Act has become impotent—unless it appears a whistleblower can be charged with a Hatch Act violation. Due to this, low-level employees can be punished harshly while top government officials rarely receive any punishment. Gill was a federal employee who was not prohibited from using her First Amendment rights during her own free time.
Stephen M. Kohn of whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, LLP in D.C. was the lead attorney on the case that established First Amendment rights for federal employees and the prohibition of viewpoint-based retaliation, Sanjour v. Environmental Protection Agency. “Viewpoint-based retaliation is an egregious and profound violation of a person’s First Amendment rights,” Kohn advised. “Any federal official or manager who retaliates against someone’s First Amendment rights should be disciplined if not fired.”
In April of 2019, Gill’s new supervisor, the Director of the Medical Office, and his supervisor, the Director of Agency Office Affairs, flew from Washington D.C. to San Diego and informed Gill that her job at West Region San Diego TRICARE Liaison was moving to the East Region, Washington, D.C.
Gill found this highly suspicious since they had just moved the job from Colorado to San Diego due to a DOD demand. Gill knew that the VA was aware of her desire not to move from San Diego since she had informed them previously. The move would be “retaliation” in Gill’s view.
She was aware that previously, former White House chief of staff John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney (now special envoy to Northern Ireland) had said, “Now, it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker; I know that because a lot of them work for me. And I’ve tried. And you can’t do it. But simply saying to the people, you know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven and move you out into the real part of the country, and they quit. What a wonderful way to streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”
Gill’s two supervisors wanted her to meet them after hours, at their hotel. They met by the hotel pool, and the meeting took about fifteen minutes. They told her she had to move or be fired. They presented Gill with no paperwork and told her to think about it. Gill felt that she had been “betrayed by the government” three times: once after her rape, twice after they turned down her PTSD diagnosis, and now, when retaliatory measures were being taken against her for her First Amendment rights.
Gill felt that the pressure, stress, and anxiety triggered her PTSD, so she put in for twelve weeks of family leave. While on leave, Gill received a letter that advised her to move to D.C. by August 6, 2019 or be fired. Gill elected to be fired and signed the letter. Her family leave was up on August 6. However, on that date, Gill still had not heard from management and “assumed she had to be back at work” in San Diego, but knew she had a starting date of August 6 in D.C. Gill called her office and started working from her home. Her supervisor welcomed her back and gave her “busy work,” “retaliatory work,” at a very demeaning level.
The next day, Gill got a call that opened with “This is a fact-finding investigation.” She asked if she should have a lawyer present, and the response was, “No, you are not entitled to representation on this call. You are not a union member.” They then instructed her to go to www.muellershewrote.com (the podcast’s website) and told her to go to the information page noting staff members of the podcast, which contained a large picture of Gill labeled “A.G.” “Is that you?” they asked. Gill responded she should have a lawyer, but was told she was not entitled to a lawyer again, and she had to “answer the question.” Gill admitted it was her. They then instructed her to go to Twitter. They asked her about a tweet an unknown individual had posted from Minneapolis that contained footage of “A.G.” at a Minneapolis stage show, leading the audience in a profanity-laced song about Paul Manafort. Gill realized they were investigating her podcast: she knew she had not done anything wrong, but she was terrified.
Gill, observing the Twitter video, responded that it was her leading the song. They asked, “Who’s your boss? Who pays you for this? Do you have a manager? Who organized this tour? Who pays your salary? Were you making money while you were on family leave? How can you be out on tour when you have PTSD?” Gill had to explain that the PTSD was not triggered from being out on tour, but rather, stress generated from her job and the retaliatory measures being taken against her.
Gill advised that she had no boss, no one paid for her tour, there was no manager, and no one was paying her monies to conduct the Mueller, She Wrote tour. Gill also explained she was not violating the Hatch Act in any manner, and Mueller, She Wrote was a hobby that helped her PTSD. She had earned her leave and felt she could do what she wanted on her own time off. The call ended, and Gill asked her office for reasonable accommodation for her PTSD because of her panic attacks; her office denied the accommodation request and said it was “imperative that she be in the San Diego office to have face-to-face meetings.” Gill’s lawyer questioned why Gill needed to be in the San Diego office as a liaison when they had already transferred her to work in D.C.
The VA temporarily approved her request for 100% telework, but that accommodation had a short expiration date. Gill then asked for time off with no pay. On March 25, 2020, Gill received a letter from the VA that notified her that she was being “removed for being medically unfit.”
The letter was 20 pages long, and the gist of it said that Gill had advised them she had panic attacks in the San Diego office, but it was imperative she meet face-to-face with personnel. Gill had asked for a 100% telework job, but they could not reasonably accommodate her. They said they had 90 days to find a telework position for Gill, but they had not been successful, so Gill was “medically unfit” to work for the VA. Gill asked them about the letter she received, advising her if she did not move to Washington, D.C., she was fired. They had no answer for that question.
Gill initiated an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) inquiry and used the results to try and get a summary judgment from the undersecretary of the VA. Gill then found out from the EEO inquiry that it was the OSC that had initiated the request to investigate her podcast. The origin of that demand to the OSC to investigate Gill had been redacted.
Since March 25, Gill has been running a new podcast, “The Daily Beans,” and has had guests like Peter Stryck, Mary Trump, and many other celebrities and intelligence agency members. Gill says she now feels more empowered, feels more like a warrior, and that she has been “put in the position that she has been in” and “everything has been put together for this moment in history.” She feels like she is making a difference through her podcast.
It is very difficult to get rid of a federal employee unless they are a whistleblower then, it appears to be no problem at all.
Find “Mueller, She Wrote” and “The Daily Beans” on Apple Podcasts.