Portantino Blows the Whistle on Legislature’s Lack of Whistleblower Proctection

Introduces Measure (AB 1378) to Protect Employees of State Legislature

portantino -Photo by Terry Miller

Each year, thousands of Californians do the right thing by reporting waste, fraud, violations of law, and political corruption. When they do the right thing, they are protected from retaliation under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. In most state houses in the nation those who witness and report these abuses are also covered with protection. Not in California. Folks who work for the State Legislature have no such protection.

Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is introducing legislation to change this disparity and offer the same protections to Legislative staffers as those offered to employees in the Governor’s office, other state agencies and appointees to state boards or commissions.

“This is another self-serving protection that the legislature enacted that needs to be repealed. Workers should know that when they do the right thing they won’t have to face the threat of retaliation. Repealing this exemption show’s we are serious about finding waste and fraud. It’s the right thing to do,” commented Portantino.

AB 1378 marks the first time legislative employees will have legal protection from reprisals for reporting government wrongdoing. It’s part of Portantino’s broader efforts to ensure openness, transparency and accountability in state government.

According to the Wall St. Journal, 34% of working Americans have seen “wrong-doing” at their jobs. But, it has only been in the last few decades that workers have been able to come forward and report that wrong-doing without fear of losing their jobs.

AB 1378 would require the Rules Committees of both the Assembly and Senate to designate an officer to receive written complaint and the state Auditor will investigate complaints. Those found guilty of retaliation could face fines up to $10,000 and a year in county jail. The bill will be heard Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Assembly Judiciary Committee.

January 12, 2012

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