2014 Whistleblower of the Year Candidate Stories

Mary Willingham

Mary WillinghamMs. Willingham is the former educator at the University of North Carolina who went public with her concerns about the university’s major failings in educating its big money athletes and has been on a continued quest to clean up college sports. As an academic advisor to UNC football and basketball players, she saw major problems with the system, including the steering of many of the school’s star athletes into fake classes as a means of maintaining their athletic eligibility. She saw that for many of the so-called “student-athletes” she worked with, they were doing work at the same level as her own elementary school and middle school age children. When the school refused to do anything about her concerns, she went public with research findings revealing shockingly low literacy levels of some of the school’s top athletes. Many of her claims have since been backed up by an independent report and Ms. Willingham has been on a nationwide campaign to get the NCAA, other universities and the government to take action. Click here for more on Ms. Willingham.

Robert MacLean
Robert MacLean

Mr. MacLean is the former federal Air Marshal who reported on the government’s plan to pull security coverage from flights despite the warning of an imminent terrorist threat to our skies. In 2003, Mr. MacLean and other Air Marshals received a secret alert that there was a terrorist threat targeting air flights. Days later, he received another alert that coverage of flights by Air Marshals would be pulled due to budget constraints. He informed higher-ups of his concern that this decision would endanger public safety, but to no avail. He pushed further, alerting the press and members of Congress of the threat, resulting in the agency’s reversal of its decision to pull coverage. However, after an internal investigation, Mr. MacLean’s identity as the whistleblower was uncovered, and he was fired. Click here and here to read our two-part interview with Mr. MacLean.

Shelly Doss

Shelly DossShelly Doss is a former environmental compliance specialist with Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), an environmental cleanup contractor for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Hanford made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades and now is the country’s largest environmental cleanup site with more than 150 underground tanks containing highly radioactive sludge. In October 2011, WRPS fired Ms. Doss after she raised numerous environmental, safety and radiation-related issues with management at the site. Apparently, she was just one of several employees fired after raising health and safety concerns at the facility. Ms. Doss filed a successful whistleblower retaliation action with the Department of Labor. Click here for more on Ms. Doss.

Alayne Fleischmann

Alayne FleischmannAlayne Fleischmann learned of JPMorgan’s alleged securities fraud in 2006 when she worked as a securities attorney for the company. After blowing the whistle internally for two years, to no avail, she was dismissed in a round of layoffs in 2008. She then provided all her information to the government at various times over the past eight years. The government eventually fined the company in a civil action, but let them off with no criminal charges. Ms. Fleischmann went public in an effort to hold the government accountable to pursuing criminal charges where serious crimes exist. She said “the concern I have is that what we’ve seen is that even when they’re really strong cases – you look at the JPMorgan-Madoff case, HSBC – they still, no matter how strong it is, they just get hushed away.” She came forward, in part, to change the game: “After watching all of these cases over and over again, at some stage I’m in the position where if I keep silent and the statute of limitation runs, or they do one of these agreements where they whitewash everything, then it’s too late, which is what’s happened over and over again so far. So, I’m trying to change the pattern and come out first, so that [the government has] to either follow these properly, the way they would for any other criminal defendant, or explain why they’re not doing it.” Click here for more on Ms. Fleischmann.

Carmen Segarra

Carmen SegarraMs. Segarra is the former New York Federal Reserve Bank examiner who was fired in 2012 for refusing to back off her charges that Goldman Sachs was engaging in serious conflicts of interest. Ms. Segarra is an ivy-league trained expert in legal and regulatory compliance who the New York Fed hired as part of a wave of new examiners to strengthen the Fed’s regulatory oversight of large banks. She found Goldman had serious lapses in its conflicts of interest controls and should be the subject of an enforcement proceeding and sanctions. Her supervisors pressured her to change her findings. When she refused, she was fired. From Segarra’s viewpoint, “they wanted me to falsify my findings, and when I wouldn’t, they fired me.” Click here for more on Ms. Segarra.

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