The Oregon House voted unanimously to increase protections for whistleblowers, a bill championed by Representative Knute Buehler. Buehler initially introduced similar legislation last session in response to the Kitzhaber-Hayes whistleblower, Michael Rodgers.
“Last year, we learned the identity of an Oregon hero – Michael Rodgers. In the face of indifference at best, or intimidation at worst, he blew the whistle on potential corruption. This bill sends the message that we will stand with other heroes, like Rodgers, who are courageous enough to call out fraud and abuse at all levels of government,” said Buehler.
Rep. Buehler has put together a broad coalition of support since last session, enlisting help from Service Employees International Union, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, Oregon State Bar Association and American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. The group has worked diligently to refine the legislation during the short session.
HB 4067 will give public and non-profit employees the same protections as employees of publicly traded corporations, taking much of the language from the federal Sarbanes-Oxley provisions. It will ensure employees are given guidelines and protocols so they know how and where to report, increases penalties for those that attempt to intimidate or silence whistleblowers, and enhances protections for distributing materials that are believed to be evidence of corruption.
“Michael Rodgers’ story, and more recently, the stories of child abuse and neglect surrounding the nonprofit Give Us This Day, show the need for stronger whistleblower protections and overall ethics reform,” said Buehler. “Oregonians deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials and agencies.”