Which one is the coward?
April 3, 2011By Dave Davies
One of the two U. S. Senators pictured here apparently killed an effort to provide meaningful protection to government whistleblowers, but didn't have the guts to do it in the light of day.
For four months, WNYC's On the Media and the Government Accountability Project have asked citizens to call every member of the Senate and ask if he or she was the one who put the "secret hold" on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act that effectively killed the measure in December.
As the term suggests, a secret hold is a maneuver that allows senators to kill legislation and leave no fingerprints, the kind of flagrantly anti-democratic procedure that you couldn't get away with in most city councils but still survives in our nation's capitol.
If you don't know about the Whistleblower bill, it's worth listening to or reading the transcript of OTM's original interview with Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project.
You'll see why the measure had bipartisan support, at least publicly, and why the assassin of this reform would want to use a silencer.
This week, On The Media reports that its crowd-sourcing effort has cleared all but two Senators of the deed – Republicans John Kyl of Arizona and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Neither will answer a simple question: did you put the secret hold on that killed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act? Both have opposed whistleblower protection legislation in the past.
Two other interesting notes from this week's report on the issue.
One, Devine reports that the request to kill the bill came from the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives.
And second, Devine's Government Accountability project is pushing hard to get the bill reintroduced in the current legislative session, and they've gotten a receptive hearing from the staff of California Congressman Darryl Issa, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Listen to this week's On the Media report here.