Bipartisan Group of Senators Launches Whistleblower Protection Caucus

Washington, D.C.-- Today Senator Charles Grassley announced the official formation of a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus during a press conference held in the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room.  The founding members of the caucus are Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (chairman), Ron Wyden (D-OR) (vice-chairman), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE) Thom Tillis (R-NC), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ed Markey (D-MA).

A number of whistleblowers were in attendance, and are available to speak with the media afterward about their experiences and the need for congressional support against whistleblower retaliation. They include:

 Fred Whitehurst

Dr. Whitehurst is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center and a former Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI who began blowing the whistle on the FBI crime lab in 1989.  Dr. Whitehurst’s case prompted President Clinton to issue an order requiring the Department of Justice to enact whistleblower protections for all FBI employees. 


Robert MacLean

Mr. MacLean is a former federal air marshal who raised concerns regarding a decision to remove air marshals from long distance flights during a confirmed terrorist alert.  A bipartisan group of senators and representatives, including Sens. Grassley and Wyden, filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. MacLean’s claim of retaliation, arguing that disclosures by federal employees are protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act unless the disclosure is specifically prohibited by statute, not merely agency rulemaking.  The Supreme Court agreed in Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean.


John Dodson

Mr. Dodson is a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  Mr. Dodson first reported to Senator Grassley allegations of gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious and its connection to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. He later testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the scandal.


Pete Forcelli

Mr. Forcelli is a Supervisory Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  He settled a retaliation claim with the Office of Special Counsel after he testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding Department of Justice management failures in connection with Operation Fast and Furious.

“This is an example of bipartisanship which will make our system work,” said Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center.

“Beyond the name calling that is pervasive in today’s politics, it is a breath of fresh air to see highly respected senators from both parties recognizing the importance of whistleblowers and the need to protect them from retaliation,” Kohn continued.

Today, the National Whistleblower Center released the report “Utilizing Whistleblowers in the Fight Against Waste, Fraud and Abuse” for use by Members of Congress in considering how to strengthen whistleblower protections. This report sets forth the central role whistleblowers play in protecting our nation from fraud.

“The National Whistleblower Center looks forward to working with the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to ensure all whistleblowers obtain meaningful protection,” Kohn added.

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