On June 15, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced the COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act CORE Act. The bill aims to protect coronavirus whistleblowers who expose the misuse of government funding meant as relief for COVID-19 pandemic. It will strengthen protections for employees and former employees against retaliation from employers.
The CORE Act also prohibits conflicts of interest in relief loans, strengthens protections for inspectors general, empower the Congressional Oversight Commission, improve transparency on bailout funds, according to Senator Warren’s press release.
Additionally, the CORE Act has gained support from a coalition of over 50 groups, ranging from social justice organizations to civil rights groups. The coalition sent a letter of endorsement of the CORE Act to the House and Senate leaders on May 26, urging them to support the passage of this bill.
According to its sponsors, the bill is necessary to ensure the appropriate spending of federal relief funds. “The American people must be able to trust that pandemic relief funds are providing much-needed assistance to the American people. Those working to help manage these funds have an obligation to speak truth when they see wrongdoing, and deserve to be protected when they do,” said Senator Harris in a press release. She added that “this critical legislation ensures relief funds are used for their intended purpose, and not abused by corporate executives.”
“Whistleblowers are truth tellers. They have moral compasses and their conviction saves American taxpayer billions of dollars each year,” said Jackie Speier, co-chair of the bipartisan Whistleblower Protection Caucus in the same press release.
Stephen Kohn, Chairman of the Board of the National Whistleblower Center and partner at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, calls the introduction of this bill “a major step forward” in an article published on June 15. He is hopeful that “the Republican caucus will join in this reform effort and endorse strong protections for whistleblowers. Whistleblower protection is a bi-partisan issue and has historically enjoyed strong support from both Democrats and Republicans.”
Read more about the Covid-19 Whistleblower Protection Act.