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Former Grassley staffers launch whistleblower support organization

Former Grassley staffers launch whistleblower support organization

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Former Grassley staffers launch whistleblower support organization

Acolytes of Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who the New York Times once described as “a sort of patron saint of whistleblowers,” launched an organization to advocate for whistleblowers and whistle-blowing on the same day that President Joe Biden signed legislation co-sponsored by the Iowa Republican establishing a whistleblower award program at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

In announcing the president’s signing of the CFTC legislation, the White House thanked Grassley as well as Republican Sens. Joni Ernst and Susan Collins of Maine, and Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

The legislation was necessary because of the success of the whistleblower program at the CFTC, Grassley said.

“Some awards distributed to whistleblowers have grown to the point that they risk wiping out the award fund before it can be replenished,” he said. That would sideline staff and operations.

“We can’t allow this program to become a victim of its own success,” Grassley said, adding, “Congress’ broad bipartisan support for this bill demonstrates just how important this program is.”

Also Tuesday, Grassley's former staffers announced the launch of Empower Oversight, a 501(c) (3). A team of investigators, lawyers and veteran law enforcement officers will be dedicated to “strengthening public integrity through research, education and the help of patriotic whistleblowers.” Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Oversight, or EMPOWR, will work to help insiders report corruption to the proper authorities and hold them accountable to act on those reports.

Four of the eight members of Empower Oversight’s leadership team have either worked for Grassley or made whistleblower disclosures to the senator. Among them are Beth Levine, a former southwest Iowan and now a partner at KO Public Affairs in Baltimore, who handled communications for Grassley and the Judiciary Committee.

A generation of former staffers “have been inspired by Sen. Grassley’s commitment to whistleblowers and ensuring their voices are heard,” Levine said. His nonpartisan work in that area will be emulated by the Empower Oversight team “to help those who have witnessed waste, fraud and abuse.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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