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New Bill Protects Whistleblower Disclosures to Congress

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Today Rep. Wynn introduced the Congressional Disclosures Act (HR 4650), which would protect federal employees and employees of government contractors who disclose information to a Member of Congress or a Congressional Committee concerning a violation of any law, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. The Congressional Disclosures Act amends the Lloyd Lafollette Act, codified at 5 USC § 7211, which prohibits interfering with or denying “[t]he right of employees, individually or collectively, to petition Congress or a Member of Congress, or to furnish information to either House of Congress, or to a committee or Member thereof.” As described by Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine, the Lloyd Lafollette Act is a “right without a remedy” in that there is no private right of action to enforce the right conferred by the statute. Under the Congressional Disclosure Act, however, a whistleblower subjected to retaliation could bring an action in federal court for triple lost wages, lost benefits, reinstatement, costs including reasonable expert witness fees, triple attorney fees, triple compensatory damages including emotional distress and lost reputation, and equitable, injunctive, and any other relief.

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