Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) spoke with FBI whistleblower and advocate Jane Turner at the National Whistleblower Day 2021 celebration. Turner focused on the personal side of Grassley’s whistleblower advocacy, asking him how being “the patron saint” of whistleblowers has affected his home life, career, and other political goals.
Grassley commented on the methods he has used to investigate fraud and increase whistleblower protections over his career: “The personal attacks don’t bother me, and I think you just don’t give up. I think you keep going until you have the information you want, and you use the media, you use speeches on the floor of the U.S. Senate, you seek help from the Government Accountability Office, you seek help from the 30 or 40 Senate confirmed Inspectors General that we have in the various departments, and you just keep going, and you just don’t give up.”
Grassley began advocating for whistleblowers when he noticed wasteful and irregular spending in defense programs in the early 1980s. It became clear to him that the government was being defrauded by military contractors. Although the government had been lucky enough to discover this particular case, this kind of fraudulent contracting could be the tip of a much larger iceberg. Grassley pushed for reforms to the False Claims Act, a American Civil War-era law that had been rendered toothless after World War II. These reforms turned the False Claims Act into what it is today: the world’s most powerful whistleblower and anti-fraud law.
Since reforming the False Claims Act and helping to pass the Dodd-Frank Act, Grassley has continued to push for stronger whistleblower protections and rewards with remarkable and consistent zeal. In 2014, he co-founded the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to further advance whistleblower protections in Congress. Grassley will also be delivering a keynote speech for the National Whistleblower Day celebration on Thursday, July 29th at 12:00pm EDT.
“Senator Grassley supported whistleblowers at a time when they were considered, in Senator Grassley’s words, little more than ‘skunks at the picnic,’” said Siri Nelson, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. “We are honored to have him once again demonstrate his unwavering support for whistleblowers at this year’s celebration.”
National Whistleblower Day 2021 will be the largest whistleblower event ever. This year’s celebration will span three days from July 28 to July 30, highlighting intriguing whistleblower stories, useful resources, and high-profile speakers.