Bunny Greenhouse, the Army contract director lionized by Democrats for exposing corruption during the George W. Bush administration, is now complaining that her efforts to win more protections for federal whistleblowers are being undermined by the Obama White House and Democrats in the Senate.
In a letter being sent Thursday to whistleblower activists, Mrs. Greenhouse, who exposed millions of dollars in no-bid contracts delivered to the giant contractor Halliburton, said she was angry to find out that she would be denied a jury trial under legislation passed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in July.
“It is time the Senate and the White House stop paying lip service to strong whistleblower protections for federal employees and pass a whistleblower law that meets their commitments,” Mrs. Greenhouse wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Times.
Click here to see the letter.
Mrs. Greenhouse’s fight against a Pentagon demotion during the Bush administration became a cause celebre for leading Democrats, including Barack Obama, who was a senator from Illinois, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, now Mr. Obama’s White House chief of staff, who used her case as ammunition in the successful fight to retake Congress in 2006.
Attorneys for the National Whistleblowers Center planned to distribute the letter to activists as they fight for changes to the Senate legislation.
“If the Senate passes the bill as currently drafted most federal employees, including myself, will still never obtain court access,” Mrs. Greenhouse wrote.
The Obama White House, negotiating with Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said the thrust of the proposal is to strengthen legal protections for federal workers who expose waste or fraud. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the measure on a unanimous voice vote in July, and the full Senate is set to take up the legislation when it returns next week.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt defended the overall bill, saying it attracted unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate committee and “will make major advances in whistleblower protections for federal employees - including allowing many federal employee whistleblowers access to jury trials for the first time.”
Mr. LaBolt added that “courageous whistleblowers like Mrs. Greenhouse deserve protections, vibrant and impartial agency investigations, and a reformed Merit Systems Protection Board - all components of the Senate bill.”
Bill supporters dispute Mrs. Greenhouse’s contention that the bill would weaken her right to a jury trial. They say Mrs. Greenhouse is covered by existing definitions in the law, which the Senate bill would amend to allow for courtroom access.
But attorneys for the National Whistleblowers Center tested that assertion in court in September and lost, when a judge ruled that Mrs. Greenhouse’s demotion from the Senior Executive Service did not qualify her for a trial.
Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat and the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate, said his measure would correct that problem.
“The bipartisan Senate compromise bill would dramatically improve protections for federal whistleblowers, overturning a number of court decisions that created loopholes in the original Whistleblower Protection Act and left workers vulnerable to retaliation for disclosing waste, fraud and abuse,” he said in a statement provided to The Times.View Entire Story
Tom LoBianco has covered energy and environmental policy, including the climate change bill making its way through Congress. From 2007 to 2008, he covered Maryland politics from the Times’s Annapolis bureau. Tom hold’s a master’s degree in political science from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. He spent two and a ...
By Andrew P. Napolitano
The president's men trash the Constitution to pursue antagonists
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
Implement these actionable tips, how-to’s and best practices in 10 minutes or less to leverage online communications and technology for brand, business and career development.
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention