Throughout his campaign, President-elect Biden has emphasized that he will lead as “a president for all” and that he will “heal the soul of our nation.” An easy way for the new administration to start is to increase protections for federal whistleblowers. A recent Marist poll found that 86% of likely voters in the U.S. agree or strongly agree with increased protections for federal employees who blow the whistle on misconduct or fraud in the government.
Under the Trump administration, the issue of protecting whistleblowers has seemingly become more politicized. Trump’s allegations that the anonymous Ukraine whistleblower who set off his impeachment was, in fact, part of a fabricated conspiracy damaged the reputation of federal whistleblowers and discouraged others from stepping forward. His obvious dislike for whistleblowers trickled down to other parts of the federal government and some state governments. However, a Marist poll commissioned by Whistleblower Network News found that public opinion has not dropped as might be expected. The poll shows widespread bipartisan support for a number of whistleblower issues.
After a tumultuous administration where allegations of misconduct in the federal government were frequent, we need to rebuild and further strengthen a system of whistleblower protections that can help restore Americans’ faith in the government. Biden should take note of the poll results and choose to make this common-sense issue a priority for his administration. Vice president-elect Harris has a strong record on whistleblowing as she litigated a number of multi-million dollar California False Claims Act cases against large corporations. Together, their administration should reflect the findings of the poll and Harris’s record by strengthening whistleblower protections in the federal government and encouraging states to do the same.