Whistleblower Spotlight

SpotlightDecember 2015

December 21, 2015 — Dr. Bennet Omalu
Dr. Omalu is the inspiration for the movie, Concussion.  He blew the whistle on the link between repeated head trauma suffered by football players and a degenerative brain disease – chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – that affects mood, emotions, and executive functions in ways similar to Alzheimer’s disease.  Needless to say, the National Football League  (NFL) was not pleased with Dr. Omalu’s findings.  They reportedly tried to stifle his research and pressured him to say he made it all up. Read more…

December 21, 2015 — The VA Whistleblowers
The Veterans Affairs whistleblowers are a (continually growing) group of healthcare providers, administrative employees, and other insiders at the VA Department who have come forward to identify the horrendous treatment of our veterans at the hospitals that are supposed to take care of them.  Dozens of our military veterans have died just waiting to be seen for simple screening procedures, and others have been relegated to a black box of never knowing when they might receive care, or delayed care that exacerbates their medical problems and pain.  These whistleblowers, some of them named, and others reporting anonymously, have shed light on these practices and have continued to push for reform for years –which unfortunately seems to be a battle that must still be waged in the New Year. Read more…

December 18, 2015 — Perdue Chicken Farmer Whistleblower Craig Watts
Craig Watts is one of the 30,000 contract farmers in the U.S. who work with the handful of Big-Ag poultry producers, like Perdue Farms, that control what goes into the vast majority of chickens we eat.  They also dictate how these chickens are treated.  And after more than twenty years in the business, working on the farm that his family has owned since the 1700s, Watts decided he no longer could be silent in the face of what he saw as Perdue’s gross mistreatment of his feathery charges. Watts was the winner of the 2015 Whistleblower of the Year. Read more…

December 18, 2015 — Russian Doping Whistleblowers Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov
Together, the Stepanvos took a bold stand against what they saw as major corruption in the recently revitalized Russian sports machine.  In doing so, they exposed one of the biggest international doping scandals in sports history.  But they also changed their lives forever. Read more…

August 2015

August 13, 2015 — Hanford Whistleblower Dr. Walter Tamosaitis
Dr. Walter Tamosaitis blew the whistle on shaky clean up plans at Hanford nuclear site in Washington. Dr. Tamosaitis was designing a way to immobilize millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive liquid waste when he discovered the Energy Department’s plans to treat the waste were extremely unsafe. He discovered that plans to mix the toxic chemicals together in the multi-billion dollar waste treatment plant could start a spontaneous nuclear reaction. Read more…

April 2015

April 30, 2015 — Halliburton Whistleblower Tony Menedez
Tony Menendez is the former accounting executive at Halliburton who the company publicly “outed” after he complained to the SEC about what he saw as the company’s multi-billion dollar accounting transgressions. An in-depth profile of Menendez published last week by ProPublica and Marketplace provides tremendous insight into what motivated Menendez to stand up against this corporate behemoth.  It also sheds light on the difficult journey so many whistleblowers are willing to take because “this was wrong and that was all that mattered.” Read more…

March 2015

March 12, 2015 — Darfur Whistleblower Aicha Elbasri
Aicha Elbasri is the former spokesperson for the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). She resigned from that post in 2013 after calling out what she describes as the “conspiracy of silence” of UNAMID and the UN in failing to report on the atrocities committed by the Sudanese government against its people: “Systematic mass rape and other instances of violence went unreported, un-investigated and covered up, forcing me to blow the whistle.”In an open letter she wrote last week to Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Elbasri implored the court to re-open its now-dropped investigation of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir and bring justice to the people of this war-torn country. Read more…

February 2015

February 19, 2015 — HSBC Whistleblower Hervé Falciani
Hervé Falciani blew the whistle in 2006 on HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland allegedly helping its wealthy customers avoid taxes and hide millions of dollars.  He has been on the run from Swiss authorities since 2008, after they accused him of stealing data and violating bank secrecy laws by coming forward with his information.  But European tax authorities in other countries have been more than happy to make use of the data, using it to recover over $1 billion in back taxes. Read more…

February 13, 2015 — CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou
John Kiriakou is the former CIA officer sent to jail in 2013 for disclosing details to the press about the agency’s post-9/11 torture tactics.  On Tuesday, after serving almost two years of a two-and-a-half year sentence, the government released him to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. Clearly relishing his long-awaited return to his wife and children, Kiriakou channeled Martin Luther King, Jr. in a tweet heard round the Twitter-sphere: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty. I’m free at last.”  Read more…

December 2014

December 18, 2014 — FIFA Whistleblower Phaedra Almajid
Phaedra Almajid worked in a senior communications role for FIFA and blew the whistle on bribery in the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process. She claims she witnessed firsthand bribes made to the African FIFA executives Issa Hayatou, Jacques Anouma and Amos Adamu of $1.5 million each to vote for Qatar. Ms. Almajid, along with another whistleblower, Australian Bonita Mersiades, gave evidence to lawyer Michael Garcia, who investigated their claims of wrongdoing over a two and a half year period and submitted a report to FIFA with his findings.  Read more…

December 11, 2014 — UNC Whistleblower Mary Willingham
Mary Willingham is the former academic adviser at the University of North Carolina who went public on what she sees as the university’s major failings in educating its big money athletes. In a talk she gave last week at the Durham Sports Club (as reported in WRAL.com), Willingham said she never wanted to become a whistleblower — no one really does — and still dislikes the tag. Nevertheless, she plans to continue on her quest to clean up college sports and reform what she describes as a “corrupt system.”  Read more…

November 2014

November 13, 2014 — Census Bureau Whistleblower Ivan Irizarry 
Ivan Irizarry, the lead scientist at the Census Bureau’s Demographic Statistical Methods Division, is the whistleblower who recently outed himself and his concerns over what he sees as the government’s failure to take any action to address his reports of potential fraud at the Bureau.  In an interview reported in the New York Post on Tuesday, Irizarry explained the essence of his charges and ever-mounting frustration.  In 2010, Irizarry discovered what he believed to be fraud in the Bureau’s granting of a $2 million annual contract to the University of Maryland.  He reported it all the way up the line and well beyond — to his immediate superiors; the Census’ comptroller, CFO and Bureau Chief; the Commerce Department’s Inspector General; the Office of Special Counsel, his senator, Ben Cardin (D-Md.); the FBI; and the White House.  Nothing happened.  That is, except for his own mistreatment for bringing his concerns forward.  Staff was removed from his command, and he suddenly got a bad performance review and was suspended.  Read more…

October 2014

October 29, 2014 — Climate Change Whistleblower Rick Piltz  Rick S. Piltz was a former climate policy analyst in the George W. Bush Administration and the whistleblower who exposed a White House putting politics before science by distorting scientific findings on global warming.  His release of internal government documents showing a White House behaving badly led to the immediate ousting of President Bush’s environmental policy chief.  It also changed the way the country looked at the threat of global warming.  Piltz died last week and was the subject of many tributes hailing him as a gutsy hero who stood up against a government refusing to come clean on climate change.  Read more…

October 9, 2014 — New York Fed Whistleblower Carmen Segarra
Former New York Federal Reserve Bank examiner Carmen Segarra is the individual the New York Fed fired in 2012 for refusing to back off her charges that Goldman Sachs was engaging in serious conflicts of interest. She also is the whistleblower who has been at the center of a media storm over recent revelations that she secretly recorded 46 hours of meetings and conversations inside the Fed relating to how the banking regulator was going to deal with Goldman’s reported transgressions. According to an in-depth report  on ProPublica, which also contains excerpts from the recordings, the secret tapings “offer an intimate study of the New York Fed’s culture at a pivotal moment in its effort to become a more forceful financial supervisor.” Read more…

October 1, 2014 — Marine Whistleblower Franz Gayl
US Marine Corps civilian scientist and retired Marine Officer Franz Gayl is the Marine Corps insider who in 2006 sounded the alarm on the military’s failure to protect US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with appropriate armored vehicles. While stationed in Iraq, he saw first-hand the casualties being suffered from roadside bombs by Marines in poorly protected Humvees. He pushed for their replacement with blast-resistant trucks known as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Read more…

September 2014

September 16, 2014 — Saudi Arabia’s Twitter Whistleblower @mujtahidd
With more than 1.5 million followers, the unidentified individual who goes by the Twitter handle @mujtahidd appears to be on a one-man crusade to expose corruption in and bring transparency to this historically tight-lipped desert kingdom of 28 million people. Choosing a moniker which in Arabic translates into “an authoritative interpreter of the religious law of Islam,” this anonymous whistleblower has become a force to be reckoned with in Saudi Arabia with his principal focus on the ruling elites. Read more…

September 5, 2014 — MassMutual Whistleblower Bill Lloyd
Last month, Bill Lloyd, a former agent with the insurance company MassMutual Financial Group based in Springfield, MA, revealed himself as the unnamed whistleblower to whom the SEC awarded $400,000 for helping the agency uncover an allegedly fraudulent investment scheme at the company. It is only the thirteenth whistleblower award the SEC has made so far under the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Read more…

August 2014

August 22, 2014 — Hanford Whistleblower Shelly Doss
Shelly Doss is a former environmental compliance specialist with Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), an environmental cleanup contractor for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Located in central Washington, 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. She had worked at Hanford for more than twenty years. Apparently, she was just one of several employees fired after raising health and safety concerns at the facility. Read more…