Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has called on President Joseph Biden to host a Rose Garden ceremony on July 30th, 2023 in honor of Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
This request came on April 4th, just a day after the bipartisan Administrative False Claims Act, a bill Grassley introduced targeting small but frequent frauds against the government and taxpayers, was unanimously passed in the Senate.
In his letter to President Biden, Grassley stressed the important role whistleblowers play in fighting waste, fraud, and abuse, deeming them deserving of this recognition.
“A Rose Garden ceremony on Whistleblower Appreciation Day with the President of the United States honoring whistleblowers for their courage and sacrifice sends a loud, clear message that our government leaders appreciate the importance of whistleblowers and retaliation will not be tolerated,” Grassley said. “It would inspire confidence in those who witness wrongdoing to stand up and do something to fix it. It would help build a culture of integrity where employees are not afraid to raise legitimate concerns because they know retaliators will be punished, not the whistleblower.”
According to the letter, Grassley has requested this event from every president since Ronald Raegan. No President has agreed thus far.
In December 2021, the Biden Administration released the “United States Strategy on Countering Corruption,” which specifically stresses the need to “protect anti-corruption actors (Strategic Objective 5.2) and defend the freedom of expression of anti-corruption activists, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists.”
“Whistleblowers have exposed waste, fraud, and abuse in just about every industry and agency in this country, and the issues they report have saved billions of taxpayer dollars,” Grassley said. “Aside from the money they have saved the taxpayer, whistleblowers help the government work better for the American people by exposing misconduct.”
Citing Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address, Grassley noted the President’s sentiments that government “watchdogs are back,” having recovered billions of taxpayer dollars subjected to fraud.
On March 2nd, Jane Turner, in collaboration with four other prominent whistleblowers, announced a campaign to make National Whistleblower Day permanent via an Executive Order from the president. Recently, a growing number of federal agencies have celebrated July 30th as National Whistleblower Day. These celebrations include internal programs, publications, and presentations informing employees of their whistleblower rights, highlighting the critical role whistleblowers play in exposing fraud, corruption, and abuse of power across the government and beyond.
While National Whistleblower Day has been recognized each year since 2013 by Senate resolutions, this Order would permanently designate July 30th as National Whistleblower Day and require federal agencies to highlight the tools and protections that employees have in blowing the whistle, along with an acknowledgement of past whistleblowers.
“We must change the culture and send a message that whistleblowers need to be appreciated, not made the victims of retaliation,” Stephen M. Kohn, leading whistleblower attorney and Chairman of the Board of the National Whistleblower Center said. “Biden should hold the Rose Garden ceremony, and on that day, sign the Executive Order requiring every federal agency to recognize the actions of the founders of this country and to demand respect for whistleblowers.”
Turner, along with Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, FBI crime lab whistleblower Frederic Whitehurst, law enforcement safety whistleblower Aaron Westrick, and Army Corps of Engineers whistleblower Bunny Greenhouse, approves of Grassley’s request and hopes to see whistleblowers respected amongst government and private sector employees.
“Chuck Grassley possesses the true essence of a hero,” Turner, FBI whistleblower turned whistleblower advocate, said. “He has been a stalwart advocate of whistleblowers, providing steadfast support since reintroducing a modernized and strengthened False Claims Act in 1986.”
Since revamping the False Claims Act, Grassley has introduced and helped with the passage of a number of notable whistleblower laws, including legislation which modernized the IRS Whistleblower Program and the CFTC Fund Management Act, which saved the CFTC Whistleblower Program from financial collapse. In 2015, he also co-founded the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, where he currently serves as Chair.
“He is a leader in fashioning bipartisan political groundwork, allowing the passage of laws and policies that affect every single whistleblower today,” Turner said. “Known as the patron saint of whistleblowers, Senator Grassley has suffered indignities over the years from those who fight viciously to suppress truth and transparency and yet, he has never wavered or abandoned his whistleblowers.”
With National Whistleblower Day just a few months away, advocates and Grassley alike hope to see some movement on their request for a permanent day of whistleblower recognition and the White House ceremony.
“Instead of being treated like skunks at a picnic,” Grassley said, “let whistleblowers smell the roses at the White House and bask in the appreciation of a thankful nation well served by their efforts to shine a light on waste, fraud, and abuse.”
For more information on the campaign to make National Whistleblower Day permanent visit: Make National Whistleblower Day Permanent