News

Swalwell introduces federal whistleblower protection law

Federal officials who leak whistleblower's identity would face criminal penalties

A federal bill that would better safeguard the anonymity and security of whistleblowers was introduced by Tri-Valley Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) earlier this month.

The "Enhancing Protections for Whistleblower Anonymity Act" was drafted last year, after complaints about President Donald Trump's relationship with the Ukrainian government led to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, followed by his acquittal by the U.S. Senate.

The identity of the person who raised concerns about Trump's actions generated substantial speculation and numerous efforts by some congressional members to uncover and publish their information. Trump's accusations that the whistleblower was a spy who could face the death penalty and instigator of a hoax, and demands to "meet his accuser" made the whistleblower's attorney share concerns about their client's safety.

“Whistleblowers are critical to rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal conduct, especially as this administration strives to block congressional oversight at every turn,” Swalwell said after his new bill was introduced June 11.

"Threatening and trying to reveal whistleblowers’ identities is wrong and undercuts long-established policy, endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans for decades, to encourage people to come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. It’s time to stand up against these attacks and strengthen the right of whistleblower anonymity," Swalwell added.

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Federal officials are currently prohibited by law from revealing the identity of a whistleblower, but no penalty exists for violations.

The Whistleblower Anonymity Act would "would impose criminal penalties on any federal official who knowingly communicates the identity of a whistleblower, or information which would reveal such a person’s identity, except to other government officials when permitted by existing law." Whistleblowers whose identities are illegally disclosed would also be able to sue for injunctive relief or monetary damages.

Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, said the bill "adds the teeth that whistleblower confidentiality laws have always needed for credible rights.”

“It long has been illegal to retaliate against federal witnesses, and exposing anonymous whistleblowers is the gateway for all reprisals. But federal laws protecting confidentiality rights are toothless, without any way for whistleblowers to defend themselves or enforce them," Devine said. "Until there are remedies and accountability, there will be no deterrence against gateway harassment. Outing whistleblowers exposes them to retaliation, ranging up to death threats last year, and has a chilling effect on the flow of evidence necessary for the rule of law."

The House Judiciary Committee, which Swalwell serves on, will hold a hearing in the future and receive testimony from whistleblowers about what Swalwell called Trump's and Attorney General William Barr's "politicization of the Department of Justice."

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Swalwell introduces federal whistleblower protection law

Federal officials who leak whistleblower's identity would face criminal penalties

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 22, 2020, 10:51 pm

A federal bill that would better safeguard the anonymity and security of whistleblowers was introduced by Tri-Valley Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) earlier this month.

The "Enhancing Protections for Whistleblower Anonymity Act" was drafted last year, after complaints about President Donald Trump's relationship with the Ukrainian government led to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, followed by his acquittal by the U.S. Senate.

The identity of the person who raised concerns about Trump's actions generated substantial speculation and numerous efforts by some congressional members to uncover and publish their information. Trump's accusations that the whistleblower was a spy who could face the death penalty and instigator of a hoax, and demands to "meet his accuser" made the whistleblower's attorney share concerns about their client's safety.

“Whistleblowers are critical to rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal conduct, especially as this administration strives to block congressional oversight at every turn,” Swalwell said after his new bill was introduced June 11.

"Threatening and trying to reveal whistleblowers’ identities is wrong and undercuts long-established policy, endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans for decades, to encourage people to come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. It’s time to stand up against these attacks and strengthen the right of whistleblower anonymity," Swalwell added.

Federal officials are currently prohibited by law from revealing the identity of a whistleblower, but no penalty exists for violations.

The Whistleblower Anonymity Act would "would impose criminal penalties on any federal official who knowingly communicates the identity of a whistleblower, or information which would reveal such a person’s identity, except to other government officials when permitted by existing law." Whistleblowers whose identities are illegally disclosed would also be able to sue for injunctive relief or monetary damages.

Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, said the bill "adds the teeth that whistleblower confidentiality laws have always needed for credible rights.”

“It long has been illegal to retaliate against federal witnesses, and exposing anonymous whistleblowers is the gateway for all reprisals. But federal laws protecting confidentiality rights are toothless, without any way for whistleblowers to defend themselves or enforce them," Devine said. "Until there are remedies and accountability, there will be no deterrence against gateway harassment. Outing whistleblowers exposes them to retaliation, ranging up to death threats last year, and has a chilling effect on the flow of evidence necessary for the rule of law."

The House Judiciary Committee, which Swalwell serves on, will hold a hearing in the future and receive testimony from whistleblowers about what Swalwell called Trump's and Attorney General William Barr's "politicization of the Department of Justice."

Comments

Hotslide
Oak Tree Acres
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:12 am
Hotslide, Oak Tree Acres
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:12 am
8 people like this

Can anyone point out any issue of substance this guy has done for the community? All through Obamagate and the baseless phone call impeachment fiasco his mug was hugged up against the back of Adam Schfiff in every photo shot when Schiff scurried out of hearings to lie and leak info to the media. Lest we forget this idiot actually ran for President. What an embarrassment.


Rich Buckley
Livermore
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:16 am
Rich Buckley, Livermore
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:16 am
Like this comment

ID'-ing the Whistleblower eventually vs Never, Why? Why Not?


Rich Buckley
Livermore
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:48 am
Rich Buckley, Livermore
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:48 am
2 people like this

The law should first address that there shall be no government program security classification outside and above the office of POTUS, and that POTUS has the authority to declassify any secret government project on which he as been briefed or on which he has not been briefed.

Didn't President Jimmy Carter say when he asked about UFO's and Aliens he was told "no" by then head of the CIA, Bush One?

How many other secrets are kept from Presidents?


Me
Bridle Creek
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:42 am
Me, Bridle Creek
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:42 am
7 people like this

All of you who focus on terrible politicians should look at the top of the pile. ...Agent Orange in the White House. He is a liar, racist, and a narcissist . He cheats and not just in golf. Where are his tax return? Why would he not let his staff testify in front of Congress during his Impeachment hearings. Where was he when he knew that the virus was coming to USA? He needs to take the blame for not preparing us for this disaster. Agent Orange dumped it on the Governors. That way when this disaster hit he could blame it on the Govenors He does not take responsibility for anything except for the ongoing Obama’s economy. Let’s not forget what our economy was like when Obama first took office. Disaster! No one can become President and turn the economy over as fast as Agent Orange claims he did! Liar! Agent Orange in an embarrassment and is terrible leader for our country. There has never been so much hatred and racism in the US since he took office. Swallwell may not be perfect, but thank goodness he is not like Agent Orange!


Ron
Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm
Ron, Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm
3 people like this

Swalwell has done absolutely nothing for District 15 since he has been in office. He has yet to introduce anything of substance or value to us his constituents. President Trump is not perfect, But it beats socialism and Sleepy Joe...


Rich Buckley
Livermore
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:22 pm
Rich Buckley, Livermore
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:22 pm
3 people like this

Mr/Ms Me, My dislike was for the then CIA director who kept secrets from POTUS when specifically asked. It is not the purpose of my comment to rate the presidents. Instead I am trying to illustrate there ought to be a law that the reasserts our commitment to a constitutional democratic-republic stating our POTUS has the powers to declassify any secret government project on which he as been briefed ("read in" to the project, as they say) or on which he has not been briefed (not been "read in).

It is unacceptable that we find embedded in government bureaucrats who place themselves above POTUS. If Congr. Swalwell would address this issue I think he would find it is not partisan and at the same time serves the better interests of the nation.


Pleasanton Parent
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:52 pm
Pleasanton Parent , Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:52 pm
3 people like this

Thanks for nothing Eric. You’ve done zero for district 15.

You’re guilty of the same crimes you’ve accused our president of. And here you are now trying to bury the evidence.

I seriously hope Katherine Baker runs against you.


OK
Birdland
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:14 pm
OK, Birdland
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Like this comment

ME. I assume you will vote for Biden this next election or are you on the fence.


Castle Anna
Castlewood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm
Castle Anna, Castlewood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm
5 people like this

ME: First of all, change the channel...if you're watching MSNBC and CNN, their one goal is to spew hate and dishonesty about the Trump administration. Not one President has accomplished what his administration has accomplished in the 3+ years he's been in office. I like to share this link: Web Link which breaks down everything that this current administration has done for our country...month by month. You might now agree with all things accomplished, but it's a heck of a list that benefits ALL Americans.


Mflana
Donlon Elementary School
on Jun 23, 2020 at 6:25 pm
Mflana, Donlon Elementary School
on Jun 23, 2020 at 6:25 pm
3 people like this

Well- I also feel he has done nothing for our district.

Let's do it the American way and VOTE HIM OUT. There are 5 people running against him... if I googled correctly.

Sorry putting another publication- but Pleasanton Weekly didn't have info- unless it was blocked for some reason.

Web Link


DKHSK
Bridle Creek
on Jun 24, 2020 at 7:08 am
DKHSK, Bridle Creek
on Jun 24, 2020 at 7:08 am
2 people like this

Simply put: he’s vile.


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