Sunday Read: Senator Grassley’s Legacy
This overview of Senator Charles Grassley’s career long commitment to whistleblowers was sent as part of NWC’s “Sunday Read” series that aims to educate supporters about whistleblower stories and whistleblower legislative or policy initiatives and current events. For more information like this, please join our mailing list.
Senator Grassley (R-IA) is a faithful public servant who has dedicated his career to fighting for whistleblowers. He began his career as a member of the Iowa Legislature (1958–74) and went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives (1974–80). In 1980, Senator Grassley was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he has been representing Iowans for over four decades. Now the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Iowa history and a highly influential politician, Senator Grassley serves as the Chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, as well as many other legislative groups. Senator Grassley’s pragmatic approach to politics, coupled with his commitment to whistleblower rights, has enabled him to make such a meaningful impact for whistleblowers that whistleblower Jane Turner called him “the lion of the Senate” for whistleblowers in an interview. This National Whistleblower Day, Senator Grassley will give encouraging remarks on the importance of continuing to fight for whistleblowers.
Senator Grassley Makes National Whistleblower Day Possible
National Whistleblower Appreciation Day would not exist without the support of Senator Grassley. Despite immense public support to designate July 30th of every year as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day through bicameral action, Congress has failed to make National Whistleblower Day a Federal Day of Observance.
Consequently, a Senate Resolution recognizing the holiday must be submitted and passed each year. Senator Grassley has consistently introduced a Senate Resolution to recognize National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30th since 2013. His efforts have made National Whistleblower Appreciation Day a reality and brought global awareness to the issues whistleblower currently face.
Senator Grassley has Led the Charge on Effective Laws
Senator Grassley can be credited for making the False Claims Act (FCA) much of what it is today. Early in his U.S. Senate career, Senator Grassley passed the 1986 amendments to the FCA, which significantly strengthened the FCA. After stating in a recent speech that the FCA is “the federal government’s most powerful tool to protect taxpayers’ dollars and root out waste, fraud, and abuse,” Senator Grassley went on to introduce the False Claims Act Amendments of 2021(2021 Amendments). The 2021 Amendments, Senator Grassley explained, would “clarify that the government can still hold fraudsters accountable if other reasons existed for [the] continued payment” of their fraudulent claims, regardless of whether or not they are “material.” The 2021 Amendments would also make it more difficult for the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss a whistleblower complaint and, among other things, provide whistleblowers with additional anti-retaliation protections.
In 2006, Senator Grassley strengthened the IRS whistleblower program. Prior to the 2006 changes, the program had many issues that did not sufficiently encourage individuals to “blow the whistle” on fraudsters. Thanks to Senator Grassley’s efforts, the IRS whistleblower program provides whistleblowers a right to appeal determinations and guarantees them between fifteen to thirty percent of any proceeds that the IRS collects. Senator Grassley is also trying to further strengthen the program by working to pass the IRS Whistleblower Program Improvement Act of 2021 (2021 Act). The 2021 Act would, among other things, enhance the program’s current funding mechanism and establish a de novo standard of reviewfor whistleblowers appealing their cases.
In 2016, Senator Grassley led a bipartisan effort to amend the Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Program (FBI WPEA) by introducing the Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016 (2016 Amendments). Under the FBI WPEA, FBI whistleblowers can only make disclosures to a limited list of authorized officials. Senator Grassley’s 2016 Amendments seek to close that gap by expanding the list of people to whom whistleblowers can make an authorized disclosure.
Senator Grassley Continues to Fight for Critical Improvements
Senator Grassley continues to make efforts for FBI whistleblowers. Currently, Senator Grassley leading an effort to enact further changes to the FBI WPEA. Under the initiative, FBI employees will have the right to appeal their whistleblower retaliation case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Additionally, the amendment enables FBI whistleblowers to take their case directly to the MSPB if the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice fail to respond to their complaints in a timely manner.
Recently, Congress passed the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act), which provides whistleblowers a financial award if they provide actionable information relating to potential money laundering. On December 6, 2021, Senator Grassley introduced a bill to strengthen the AML Act’s whistleblower program. The bill guarantees whistleblowers a share of at least ten percent of the proceeds collected, raises the maximum award amount from twenty-five percent to thirty, and improves the program’s funding scheme. Additionally, the bill expands the list of covered disclosures to include international-money laundering laws, which will provide whistleblowers with a reward and protections for illegal financial conduct.
RSVP for National Whistleblower Day for More from Senator Grassley!
Although we could go on to list more legislative initiatives, the point is simple and clear: Senator Grassley has undoubtedly been instrumental in advancing the rights and interests of whistleblowers. For those interested in hearing Senator Grassley deliver his remarks on National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, which is scheduled to occur on Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 5 PM EST, are invited to tune in virtually. Readers that do not want to miss this opportunity should RSVP beforehand here.