Whistleblower Attorney Provides Historical Context to Time Magazine Explaining the Duty of All Americans to Report Those Who Break the Law
Time Magazine Recognizes Intelligence Community Whistleblower as “Guardian of the Year”
Today, Time Magazine recognized the Public Servants of the Intelligence Community impeachment proceedings, including the anonymous whistleblower, as the “Guardians of the Year.”
Whistleblower attorney Stephen Kohn, a partner at the qui tam law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, and longtime advocate for whistleblower protection, spoke with Time Magazine to provide historical background on whistleblower laws in the United States.
The history behind the Founding Fathers’ support of whistleblowers, buried in the records of the Continental Congress for over 200 years, was only rediscovered as a part of the research behind Kohn’s book The Whistleblower’s Handbook.
At the height of the American Revolution, when the very existence of the Nation was at risk, the Continental Congress unanimously voted on America’s first explicit whistleblower law, stating it was the “duty” of every inhabitant of the United States to report wrongdoing.
In 1778, the resolution passed to honor those whistleblowers and protect future whistleblowers who come forward with evidence of misconduct. In a Ted Talk, Kohn explains the origins of the Nation’s first whistleblower law and the untold stories of the whistleblowers of 1777.
Kohn stated: “The 1778 resolution establishes a fundamental faith in the importance of everyday citizens, to ensure enforcement of the rule of law regardless of the position held by those who break the law. In 1777, ten volunteer sailors and marines for the Continental Navy blew the whistle on the commodore, Esek Hopkins. The founding fathers put aside class and position and supported the rank and file patriots who put their freedom on the line to report misconduct.”
The history of whistleblowing in the United States that Kohn rediscovered is now again making headlines. The Director of National Intelligence even includes this history on its website. The U.S. Senate, recognizing the historical significance of this first whistleblower law, has proclaimed every July 30th since 2013 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.” A day that encourages federal offices to remind their employees of their right to blow the whistle and celebrate those who risk their livelihoods to fight waste, fraud, and abuse.
“This lesson reverberates now across the country as all Americans must examine their “duty” as an inhabitant of the world’s greatest democracy to ensure that the laws are followed,” Kohn continued. “Every person with relevant information regarding the impeachment proceedings that are unfolding, regardless of who they support, has an obligation to come forward with evidence. No secrecy agreement, contract, or loyalty to a political party should interfere with this duty. It is part of the fundamental law.”