Vote Soon for the 2020 Whistleblower of the Year
Whistleblower Insider wants to hear from you on who should be honored as our 2020 Whistleblower of the Year. As in previous years, we are especially interested in those individuals who best encapsulate the qualities of the typical whistleblower — courage, strength, integrity, selflessness and a deep concern for public health and safety. And please add in the comments section why your candidate is deserving of the honor. Voting will begin in January and run through the end of February with the results of your top selection to be announced shortly thereafter. Stay tuned for the voting polls!
Dr. Rick Bright — A vaccine expert, Dr. Bright was the director of the U.S. government research agency combating the coronavirus until demoted after complaining of political interference by Trump appointees in the development of scientific countermeasures. As early as January, Dr. Bright pressed the government to stock up on masks and drugs to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. He also objected to government contracts being awarded based on political connections and for unproven treatments favored by President Trump. For his honesty and scientific integrity, Dr. Bright was run out of the government, but has sounded the alarm to Congress and the American public. Learn more about Dr. Bright here, here, and here.
Rebekah Jones — She is the former data scientist for the Florida Department of Health who claims she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 tracking data to support a political push to reopen Florida after months of quarantine. She went on to create her own website to provide what she considered more accurate, reliable and unadulterated data on coronavirus cases and patient demographics in Florida. Learn more about Rebekah Jones here.
Xavier Justo — A prominent Swiss global asset manager, Xavier Justo, helped unravel one of the biggest corruption scandals in the world: the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal where over $4.5 billion – originally intended to be invested through global partnerships and foreign direct investment for the benefit of the Malaysian people – was embezzled by high-level Malaysian officials, including former Prime Minister Najib Razak, with the help of several business associates like Justo’s former employer, Petro Saudi, and global financial institutions like Goldman Sachs. For his courage and integrity, Justo was imprisoned on false charges and suffered from vicious smear campaigns orchestrated by Razak and Petro Saudi. Learn more about Xavier Justo’s story here.
Dr. Yasmine Motarjemi — She is a leading expert in food safety standards who previously held a senior role in the World Health Organisation. She joined Nestlé in 2000 and became a whistleblower by repeatedly raising concerns about the company’s handling of food safety incidents and internal processes. In her recent successful appeal against Nestlé for unfair dismissal in the Swiss courts, Dr. Motarjemi detailed several specific and severe instances where she considered Nestlé’s food safety controls fell short, all of which were ignored by the company known for several high-profile food safety concerns. Since her dismissal, Ms. Motarjemi has vigorously pursued the defense of whistleblower rights and the right to information. Learn more about Dr. Yasmine Motarjemi’s story here.
Dawn Wooten — She was a nurse at an immigration detention facility, who came forward this fall to report that multiple women in immigration detention were being forced into hysterectomies without their consent. After Ms. Wooten came forward, women who had been subjected to the cruel and inhumane practice corroborated her story with their personal horrifying tales. Ms. Wooten further reported inadequate coronavirus protections that left both the immigrants stuck in the facility and staff at risk for infection. Ms. Wooten’s bravery created the public outcry necessary to spark congressional investigations into the facility’s practices and the state of inadequate medical care in immigration detention facilities more generally. Learn more about Dawn Wooten here.
Sophie Zhang — In September, Sophie Zhang, a Facebook data analyst, resigned in protest over Facebook’s failure, despite her repeated warnings, to dedicate sufficient resources to root out fake accounts spreading disinformation affecting elections and campaigns in emergent countries outside the U.S. and Western Europe. In a 6,600-word post shared with the entire company on her last day, Sophie Zhang provided examples of fake accounts by political parties and government leaders in Azerbaijan and Honduras and fake accounts in India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador spreading disinformation regarding candidates, however, without always knowing the source. As a result of Sophie’s good efforts to expose this problem, Facebook removed 1,000 fake accounts and 8,000 troll pages peddling misleading and manipulative content regarding politicians and campaigns in Azerbaijan. Learn more about Sophie Zhang’s story here.
Our Past winners:
- 2018 Whistleblower of the Year Goes To . . . Siobhan O’Connor
- 2017 Whistleblower Of The Year Goes To . . . James Comey
- 2016 Whistleblower Of The Year Goes To . . . Flint Whistleblower LeAnne Walters
- 2015 Whistleblower Of The Year Goes To . . . Perdue Chicken Farmer Craig Watts
- 2014 Whistleblower Of The Year Goes To . . . Mary Willingham
- 2013 Whistleblower of the Year Goes to . . . Animal Rights Whistleblower Taylor Radig