The “Skunks” are Getting Together Again

The National Whistleblowers Center, along other good government groups will be hosting the 2009 National Whistleblower Assembly from March 8-12. This event, which brings scores of public and private sector whistleblowers to Washington, DC, has been extremely successful in getting the attention of Congress over the past three years.

Back in 2007, when the whistleblower community held the first such event (it was called “Whistleblower Week in Washington”), one of the major events that week was an award ceremony at which representatives from approximately 30 public interest groups presented Senator Charles Grassley with an achievement award for all that he has done for whistleblowers. During his acceptance speech, Senator Grassley explained to us his support for whistleblowers, and there are two lines of that speech that I will never forget.

First, the Senator expressed his view that “Whistleblowers are treated like a skunk at a picnic.” While this statement is somewhat humorous, we know it’s true. Whistleblowers who risk their livelihood to expose wrongdoing are often seen as breaking up the party of greed and corruption. Senator Grassley realizes that whistleblowers are heroes, and they deserve our respect. That brings me to the second thing that I remember from that speech: the Senator calling for the President of the United States to hold nothing less than a Rose Garden ceremony honoring whistleblowers. At the time, Grassley said that “this would send a message from the very top of the bureaucracy about the importance and value of whistleblowers.”

As we know, the Bush Administration was for the most part not friendly toward whistleblowers, and this idea never got off the ground. In recent weeks, though, Senator Grassley has proposed this idea to President Obama, who has long supported whistleblower rights. Hopefully this becomes a reality!

This year’s National Whistleblower Assembly is sure to be as exciting, informative, and successful as in the past. I encourage anyone in the DC area to check it out! For more information, and to RSVP for events, click here.


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