The whistleblower paradox
The federal government and most state governments, including Ohio, have whistleblower protection statutes. The feds history goes back to the Civil War where ubiquitous fraud plagued both the Union and Confederate armies. Apparently dirt-bag contractors are not new to 20th or 21st Century warfare, but our congress-critters saw it snowball during the Reagan build-up, so in 1986 they reinforced the federal False Claims Act (FCA). Imagine this; from 1987-2013 Congress and the DOJ used the FCA to recover almost $40 billion from unscrupulous contractors! The majority of that can be attributed to cases brought forward by whistleblowers. (Source: US Department of Justice, Fraud Statistics, October 1, 1987-September 30, 2013) The surprise is not how much the government recovered, but how little. On the surface that may seem impressive, but it’s not as it’s merely a small drop in the bucket compared to the trillions of dollars spent during a quarter century of defense budgets, earmarks and shenanigans among the military-industrial-congressional complex. In any case, at least it presented the appearance congress was addressing the problem which served to kick the can down the road a little further.
Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) 4113.52 also protects whistleblowers if they turn states evidence on their employer whether or not she is employed by the state of Ohio. In order to be protected, the whistleblower must inform her employer of the alleged criminal act or hazard to public safety or health. The employer then has 24 hours to initiate corrective action or provide a good faith explanation why the employee’s disclosure crosses the legal threshold. In either case, ORC 4113.52 protects the employee from reprisal. If government or private sector management would initiate an adverse action against the whistleblower they would be subject to criminal prosecution, and the employee may be entitled to back wages with interest, full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority and reimbursement of all attorney’s fees related to the civil litigation, and therein lays the paradox. Third party citizens who have not suffered adverse consequences would have a difficult time establishing a claim under state or federal whistleblower protection statutes, which is precisely the case with our claims against Greene County and the Dayton Development Coalition. But it gets worse. Not only have state and federal investigators ignored our well-documented evidence, they have also obstructed justice and due process. In 2009 the Greene County Commissioners actually appropriated $50,000 to hire private defense counsel to defend the Greene County Prosecutor and Greene County Commissioners against our good faith public records lawsuit and other allegations including violation of the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, tampering with evidence (a third degree felony), bid rigging, breach of contract and non-appropriation of funds, to name a few infractions. Unfortunately the FBI, U.S Attorney, Greene County Prosecutor and Greene County Common Pleas Court stonewalled that evidence. You would think the political class would want to clear their name of searing allegations that call into question basic ethical and decency standards expected from public servants earning a living from taxpayer-funded compensation, but that’s not the case in Greene County.
Some may look at this as a good case for a “get-out-of- jail-free” card. If after a decade or so of stonewalling, if the government would suddenly roll out a civil or criminal action against OCGJ, their motivation would certainly be scrutinized. Would it be to pursue justice and the rule of law, or would it be retribution against persistent investigative reporting with the facts to back it up? Of course another alternative would be for the government to go outside the law to levy reprisal on whistleblowers. That’s been done before and could be done again. Take for example Chicago politics today and Tammany Hall in New York in the 1860s. Do we believe for a minute these two mighty Democratic political machines ever operated within the law? Of course not, but in any case, from our experience at OCGJ the Greene County Republican political machine has learned its lessons and learned them well.