March 9, 2009

Joan Claybrook Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Standing Up for Whistleblowers and Accountability

Whistleblowers and Advocates Convene in Washington, D.C., to Urge Congress to Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joan Claybrook, the former president of Public Citizen, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award today during a gathering of whistleblowers and advocates for her decades of fighting to protect employees who report wrongdoing.

“It is a great honor to recognize Joan Claybrook for advocacy and leadership. She has gone beyond the call of duty and is unsurpassed in results,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, who will present Claybrook with the award. “She began fighting for whistleblower rights when most of us had never heard the term. She has led the entire public interest community for almost four decades. No one has done more to teach a whole generation of activists how to make a difference, and it will take all their best efforts combined to replace her impact.”

Claybrook retired from Public Citizen in January. Under her leadership, Public Citizen championed protections for all employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse, thereby making the public safer, as well as holding the government and corporations accountable.

“Her career has been truly remarkable and serves as an example to all of us working in the public interest,” said Angela Canterbury, advocacy director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

“I am honored to accept this award, both on behalf of Public Citizen and of the employees brave enough to speak out against government wrongdoing,” Claybrook said. “I have no doubt that Public Citizen will continue to lead the way toward achieving whistleblower protections for all employees. Without such protections, the personal risks of speaking out and telling the truth will continue to deter their voices.” 

Whistleblowers, lawmakers, journalists and advocates from across the country are gathering on Capitol Hill this week to lobby for stronger shields for whistleblower. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), both ardent supporters of whistleblowers, will speak in favor of protecting these employees. In response to the removal of protections for federal workers in the stimulus bill, the National Whistleblower Assembly, sponsored by the nonpartisan Make It Safe Coalition, will urge Congress to act on this essential accountability measure before the stimulus spending begins.

“It’s important for members of Congress to meet with whistleblowers and hear their experiences firsthand. We’re confident that we will be able to work with congressional leadership to grant federal employees the protections they need and deserve,” Canterbury said.

Public Citizen, which is a member of the coalition, will work with members of Congress to enact a federal whistleblower law before spending from the stimulus package begins to ensure that the government will be held accountable and taxpayer dollars will be protected.