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Now We Know Who Blocked the Whistleblower Protection Act

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 6, 2011 7:50 AM |

Let it be known that with this commentary the Sense on Cents Hall of Shame inducts Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). What have they done to deserve this “honor”? A recent release points the finger squarely at them for assaulting our prized virtues and never ending pursuit of truth, transparency, and integrity. Let’s navigate.

This past January 10th, I inquired Which U.S. Senator Blocked the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act? and wrote:

Let’s bang the drum once again to promote truth, transparency and integrity. In this rendition, let’s collectively work to expose the Congressional coward, that is the United States Senator, who blocked the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. In the process, Senator “Coward” took a stand against our prized virtues while defending the monied interests of corporate elitism.

Did you just vomit thinking that our hallowed halls upon Capitol Hill are populated with such louts? Why haven’t others on Capitol Hill raised a hue and cry? Fellow cowards? You think? Getting their bread “buttered” in the process? You think? What happened to our country? High five and major kudos once again to the Project on Government Oversight for bringing attention to this travesty. Let’s call out the cowards and demand the answer as to whom blocked this act. How so? Let’s navigate as POGO writes:

Help Identify the Senator Who Placed a Secret Hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act WNYC’s On the Media and our partners at the Government Accountability Project (GAP) are spearheading an effort to identify the senator who torpedoed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) with a secret hold. As you may recall, the WPEA—the product of a twelve-year effort to secure credible protections for federal whistleblowers—failed to reach the president’s desk despite being passed unanimously in both chambers of Congress within a two-week period. So what happened? After the House passed a watered-down version of the bill that had been passed unanimously in the Senate earlier in December, one senator placed a secret hold on the bill and promptly skipped town as the sun set on the 111th Congress.

Who placed the hold on the bill? Who showed their lack of support and appreciation for truth, transparency, and integrity—the cornerstones of capitalism—while protecting the corporate interests who line their pockets? The Government Accountability Project points the ‘red hot poker’ squarely at Kyl, Sessions, and Boehner. Let’s review as GAP writes, House Republican Leadership Asked Senator to Place “Secret Hold” on Federal Whistleblower Bill:

This past weekend, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the NPR show On The Media (OTM) announced an end to their “Blow the Whistle” campaign, which sought to identify which U.S. Senator placed a ‘secret hold’ during the final hours of the last session of Congress, killing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA).

The crowd-sourcing effort, which relied on citizens to contact their respective senators and report back findings, led GAP and OTM to eliminate all but two senators during the three month campaign. A shocking revelation about the ‘secret hold’ emerged during the campaign. According to GAP, based on multiple sources inside congressional offices, one of the two remaining senators killed the bill at the request of Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented, “Whistleblowers risk their professional lives to fight government fraud, waste and abuse. How can taxpayers trust any politician who campaigns on that pledge, and then secretly kills rights for government workers who risk their careers to deliver it? House leadership owes taxpayers an explanation as to why they started sabotaging those campaign promises just weeks after the election, before they even began governing. Even more important, Speaker John Boehner owes taxpayers a commitment that this will not happen again.”

GAP and OTM are able to confirm, based primarily on information from our supporters and listeners (respectively), that all but two senators were not responsible for the hold on the bill. The final, remaining suspects are Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Both Senate offices have steadfastly refused to identify which one formally placed the hold. But the distinction is academic. Four times now since 2004, these two senators have taken turns placing holds that blocked Senate action on the WPEA.

Late last week, GAP ruled out another senator — Republican James Risch of Idaho — based on several conversations with his office. Although Sen. Risch refuses to deny placing the hold (his policy is simply to not comment on secret holds), GAP ruled him out when learning from multiple sources that the hold was placed by Senate Republican leadership at the request of House Republican leadership.

Senator Risch’s office confirmed to GAP that the senator had no policy objections to the WPEA last Congress, nor was he working with Senate leadership on the legislation. That left Senators Kyl and Sessions, both part of the Senate leadership team. “If there’s a silver lining to this procedural loophole, it’s that the hold turned a harsh spotlight on the dismal state of federal whistleblower protections,” said GAP Legislative Campaign Coordinator Shanna Devine. “The WPEA is expected to be reintroduced in the Senate shortly, and now senators have heard directly from constituents about the importance of this legislation.”

Do you think there was even one individual within the SEC who may have wished serious whistleblower protections were in place so he/she may have blown the whistle on the Madoff fiasco? Might the same be asked of the abomination surrounding the Stanford investigation? What about issues within the mortgage industry? Is there any doubt that potentially these travesties and other examples of the Wall Street-Washington incest may have been exposed?

As for Senators Kyl, Sessions, and Speaker Boehner, what say you? “John, are you crying because you have been exposed?”

My position as a registered Independent is growing ever stronger. Where is the mainstream media to call them on the carpet? Those who love America and capitalism deserve so much better.

Larry Doyle
Please subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook.

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • Peter

    Silencing a whistle-blower purposely protects those committing fraud. And knowing that collusive fraud can only be exposed by a whistle blower – the article begs the question, what would be the motivation of a U.S. Senator to block the Act? Certainly the Senator was not influenced by the overwhelming majority of his/her constituency. How in the world, in this post Madoff era, would any Senator deliberately aid in the continued fleecing of the taxpayer and mom and pop investor.

  • MG

    Thick as thieves. Luciano and Capone would blush.

  • Peter Sivere

    Unbelievable, Thrid paragraph from the bottom. This from the Senators own website.

    Sessions to Deputy AG Nominee: DOJ Officials Must Reject ‘Blind Adherence’ to Pre-9/11 Mindset
    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    “I am deeply concerned with the aggressive way in which you criticized our government’s response to the September 11th attacks and the creation of military commissions. Your statements show an adherence to the failed pre-9/11 law enforcement approach to Islamic terrorism that focused on indictments rather than intelligence and individual suspects rather than the international terrorist networks… [T]he top officials within the Department of Justice must reject this blind adherence to the pre-9/11 criminal law mindset.

    “Your role as compliance monitor of AIG in the years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse and $182 billion bailout of AIG is also troubling. You were entrusted to monitor that company and put effective controls in place. I think we can both agree that the government’s efforts were not effective.”

    WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following comments today at the nomination hearing for James Cole to be Deputy Attorney General:

    “There are a number of critical areas that the Deputy Attorney General will be involved in. Of course, you act in the absence of the Attorney General, and I’m sure he will give you a great deal of the management and responsibilities of the Department that has always and traditionally fallen to the Deputy. He needs a strong right arm, and I know he’s a friend of yours.

    But I have some serious concerns, and we’ll talk about those as we go forward.

    First, I am deeply concerned with the aggressive way in which you criticized our government’s response to the September 11th attacks and the creation of military commissions. Your statements show an adherence to the failed pre-9/11 law enforcement approach to Islamic terrorism that focused on indictments rather than intelligence and individual suspects rather than the international terrorist networks. You were aggressive in that. That was the position you took, and it was contrary to what the 9/11 Commission concluded.

    Your criticism of our efforts against al Qaeda started early. According to a Washington Post article just two months after 9/11, “Washington criminal lawyer James Cole said the Bush administration is invoking an emergency as a pretext for actions ‘contrary to the spirit and letter of the Constitution.’” I don’t think that’s an accurate or fair criticism.

    Just days before the one year anniversary of September 11th, you wrote an op-ed—not honoring the victims of 9/11 or calling for justice against bin Laden—but faulting then-Attorney General John Ashcroft for his decision to support military commission trials for foreign terrorists.

    In your op-ed, you argued that, “the attorney general is not a member of the military fighting a war—he is a prosecutor fighting crime. For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population…” You compared the September 11th attacks to criminal acts like drug violations, organized crime, and murder, writing that “[t]he acts of Sept. 11 were horrible but so are these other things.” You even accused Attorney General Ashcroft of taking America down a dangerous road and abandoning core American principles by supporting military commission trials.

    From your prior statements, it appears that you would favor trying the September 11th plotters—whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Osama bin Laden—in a civilian criminal court. I would also have to assume, based on those statements and your writings, that you are in favor of providing Miranda warnings to foreign terrorist leaders when they are captured.

    Frankly, I am concerned what kind of signal your nomination sends. What is the President saying about his determination about how to proceed against these enemy combatants who threaten the United States?

    Does your nomination suggest that the Administration believes it was the correct decision to advise the Christmas Day bomber that he could remain silent and be entitled to a lawyer?

    The 9/11 terrorists are war criminals, not common criminals. The attacks were orchestrated by an international terrorist organization—al Qaeda—that was harbored by a foreign government, the Taliban in Afghanistan, against whom we have authorized the use of military force. They should be prosecuted, consistent with history and propriety, via military commission, just as this Nation prosecuted the Nazi saboteurs who came to this country to bomb civilian targets in World War II. As a matter of both constitutional and international law, and as a matter of history, these unlawful combatants are no different.

    I also disagree with your claim in your op-ed, where you characterize the civilian trial of Omar Abdul-Rahman—the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center attack—as a successful model for how to prosecute the 9/11 terrorists. And I am not alone. Both the lead prosecutor in that case, Andrew McCarthy, and the presiding judge, Michael Mukasey, disagree with the notion that the Rahman trial was somehow a model for prosecuting terrorism cases. Former Attorney General Mukasey has written that “terrorism prosecutions in this country have unintentionally provided terrorists with a rich source of intelligence” and specifically cited the Rahman trial as having tipped off Osama bin Laden through the production of a list of unindicted co-conspirators. Mr. McCarthy has said, “A war is not a crime, and you don’t bring your enemies to a courthouse.”

    The top officials within the Department of Justice must reject this blind adherence to the pre-9/11 criminal law mindset. On that note, I should add that I am concerned that so many Department nominees and officials have made statements similar to yours.

    Briefly, let me say that your role as compliance monitor of AIG in the years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse and $182 billion bailout of AIG is also troubling. You were entrusted to monitor that company and put effective controls in place. I think we can both agree that the government’s efforts were not effective.

    Some well-respected whistleblower organizations have raised questions about your nomination in light of the AIG matter. They have cited internal whistleblower claims that you allowed AIG executives to revise your reports to the SEC. Maybe we can discuss that and get your side of that.

    Mr. Cole, you were also reportedly responsible for reviewing transactions structured by AIG-Financial Products group, the one that was at the center of the credit default swaps.

    Mr. Chairman, our nominee has a lot of experience in the Department of Justice, he has the confidence of the Attorney General, he brings a number of good qualities to this committee and to the office, if confirmed, but also there are a number

  • Peter Sivere

    The below is on Congressman Boehner’s website under his blog section.

    Anne Holbrook commented on 2/9/2011
    John B–I need you to follow up on my request from last year now, please. I believe that watchdog agencies should truly do their jobs. I am requesting that the DoD IG investigate a Navy IG complaint that was never investigated thoroughly. There was fraud, abuse, theft and mismanagement. The Office of Special Counsel does very little to fully investigate either. It is important that these watchdog agencies do their jobs or there will never be transparency. I no longer believe the required training on “Ethics” because the watchdog agencies demostrate a lack of ethics when their workers fail to investigate the whole complaint and choose not delve into the illegal actions. Please follow up now that you are speaker of the House and push the DoD to investigate my Whistleblower case. At the time you requested a review by the Navy IG Command, but said that as a minority leader, could not push the issue–now is the time to push the issue. What are some problems with transparency from happening? Time limits on filing complaints. Limits on who may get investigated–if you are a probationary civilan servant then you do not get to have your complaint investigated. (DoD response to Michele Nagorski) The Navy states it only investigates complaints within 90 days of event. The Marine Corps has an indefinite limit. The Marine Corps want all complaints to come forward. Why is there this difference? The instructor before me filed a Navy complaint similar to mine and was told of the limitation so no investigation. Ethics has a time limit of 90 days!!!!!. Since I live in DC part of the time contact me at 202 316 1510 please. I have documentation of all this and the situation.

    • LD


      Thank you for sharing these stories regarding both Boehner and Sessions. Dare we say that both Mr. Boehner and Sessions seem to talk the talk a lot better than they would walk the walk.

      Who will call them on the carpet? Why is it that nobody in Congress raised this issue? Honor amongst thieves type mentality? Would seem so. That is just WRONG. How many people and how many transgressions need to occur before this crowd in Washington—on both sides of the aisle–get the message that America as a nation is PISSED and deserves and needs BETTER.

      Again, thank you very much!!

  • KBH

    From Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s office,

    Dear Friend:
    Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

    I believe that any ethical malpractices or criminal behavior in either the public or private sectors should be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities without the fear of reprisal. Not only should whistleblowers not face retaliation as a matter of principle, protecting those who come forward and expose unethical or criminal acts is a practical necessity for rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in government programs.

    The U.S. Senate approved (by unanimous consent, with my strong support) S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Act, during the last Congress. Subsequently, the bill was also passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but with one amendment added. When the amended version of S. 372 was returned to the Senate for approval, however, one (unidentified) Senator placed a “hold” on the legislation. This hold had the very frustrating and disappointing result of preventing action before Congress adjourned in December 2010.

    Under long-standing Senate rules, such secret legislative holds by a single Senator were allowed. Although rarely used to obstruct passage of a bill supported by the other 99 Senators, the use of a secret hold to prevent passage of S. 372 led to a change in the relevant Senate rule. On January 27, 2011, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 28, which established as a standing rule of the Senate that a Senator must disclose publicly a notice of intent to object, or place a “hold” on, any legislation.

    I am hopeful that a strong whistleblower protection bill will make its way through the Senate during the current session. You may be certain that I will keep your views in mind.

    I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.

    Kay Bailey Hutchison
    United States Senator

  • Tim
  • Rose Star

    Shame on the senators who stopped this important action and who were too cowardly to do so in the open. They hid from view since they know they were in the wrong. I support whistleblowers.

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