Who is the Mysterious Senator who is Fighting against Whistleblowers?
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Se. Jeff Sessions and Sen. Jon Kyl
Affter 10 unsuccessful tries, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) is hoping this year will be the one to pass legislation that expands protection for whistleblowers. But one senator is secretly standing in his way.
The “secret hold” is a procedure that allows a single senator to prevent a motion from coming to a vote…and to do so anonymously. Secret holds are bad enough in any case, but anti-corruption activists were so outraged that a senator would use the technique to stop a whistleblower bill that they launched a campaign to flush out the culprit who issued the secret hold during Congress’s last session.
After a three-month open-source investigation, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and NPR’s “On the Media” concluded that the culprit was either Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) or Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).
Sen. Akaka has tried every year since 2000 to get Congress to strengthen federal law for government workers who draw attention to criminal or civil wrongdoing.
Akaka’s latest bill builds upon the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act by adding provisions designed to encourage or empower federal employees to speak out.
For instance, the legislation would suspend the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sole jurisdiction over federal employee whistleblower cases for a period of five years. Akaka added this section because the court has a reputation for ruling against federal whistleblowers who have endured retaliation for their actions. Instead, workers would be able to seek a jury trial anywhere in the country.
The bill includes protection for national security whistleblowers as well as those working for the Transportation Security Administration.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Senate Reintroduces Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (by Shanna Devine, Government Accountability Project)
Whistleblower Protections Get Another Chance in Senate (by Robert Brodsky, Government Executive)
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