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Protecting COVID-19 Whistleblowers Is Essential

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today introduced the COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act, which would protect whistleblowers who expose waste, fraud, and misuse of government funding for coronavirus-related relief. Juley Fulcher, worker health and safety advocate at Public Citizen, released the following statement in support of the bill:

“Trillions of dollars are being distributed by the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis. It is essential that every dollar is used wisely and reaches communities that need it most. We cannot afford to have this essential assistance snatched up by those willing to take advantage of the nascent system of distribution of pandemic relief funds.

“Essential workers are the most likely to witness gross mismanagement, waste, illegal profiteering, and violations of health and safety. But speaking up could cost them their jobs. Workers must be protected from retaliation for exposing misuse of taxpayer funds and given a private right of action against employers who fire or punish them for doing so.

“Employees also should not be bound by company gag orders to silently sit by and watch corruption and their confidentiality must be protected. The COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act would do just that.

“Rebuilding our economy relies on helping workers keep their jobs, ensuring small businesses stay afloat, and providing essential workers with a living wage and a safe work environment. Protecting whistleblowers is essential in reaching that goal.”

House co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)

In the Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).