March 2, 2021, marks the 158th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the False Claims Act into law. The False Claims Act is America’s landmark whistleblower law; for more than a century and a half, it has been a guiding light for further whistleblower legislation and a powerful weapon against fraud and corruption. To celebrate the anniversary of the bill’s signing, WNN and the National Whistleblower Center hosted a webinar on March 2, featuring False Claims Act expert Kris Kolesnik and other whistleblower experts explaining the history of law, including the 1986 amendments that made it what it is today.
Since 1986, the False Claims Act has recovered more than $64 billion in fraudulently obtained funds. It stands as a shining example for other countries as they try to write and pass anti-fraud and anti-corruption legislation. The Act effectively incentivizes whistleblowers to report fraud while being protected, both financially and otherwise. Additionally, the Act’s powerful qui tam provisions allow whistleblowers, or relators as they are legally called, to continue on with the lawsuits even if the government decides not to take over the case.
One of the architects of the 1986 amendments spoke at the webinar, describing the process leading up to the passage of the bill. Kolesnik, former Senior Counselor and Director of Investigations for Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), described the political situation that made passing the amendments possible, the political climate that the amendments were written in, and the final effects of the 1986 changes. Kolesnik was interviewed by Jane Turner, former FBI special agent, and FBI whistleblower. The webinar celebrated the anniversary of the original signing of the False Claims Act looked forward to the future of the law, posing essential questions about how to keep the False Claims Act relevant in the 21st century.