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Public Interest or Publicity Interest?

Advocacy organizations can provide whistleblowers with much-needed support, or use whistleblowers to enhance their own marketing efforts, or both. Those that focus on specific issues may provide a helpful perspective about those issues. Many have more political agendas and a different set of contacts or referrals. Some have employees who have worked confidentially with whistleblowers, sometimes within a particular agency, with law enforcement and/or with the press. Again, no endorsements are intended, for the author has no time or inclination to do a quality control survey--and none of these organizations has linked to this web site in three years.

In any event, many independent advocacy organizations favor working with the media more than most civil servants, who generally value both their anonymity and privacy. Of course, sometimes public or legislative attention can protect a whistleblower. It also can backfire. Some advocacy organizations may insist on full media cooperation before even offering any real assistance--and even then there's no guarantee of quality assistance or effort after the desired publicity occurs. Advocacy is a type of marketing; publicity attracts donations and these organizations are always looking for donations, 24/7. The author does not know whether media entities fund any of these links directly. Related problems are that no one wants to be seen as a victim, and yet another "poor whistleblower" story (while good publicity for the advocacy organization) may dissuade other civil servants from reporting problems.

A few organizations, despite nonprofit or nonpartisan sounding names, may be more or less thinly-veiled attorney-referral service, funded and directed by attorneys then receiving the referrals in a for-profit setting. Again, the evasion may be the problem as much as the referral itself. Of course, any organization's referrals can provide some quality assurance too. One more note--most ads by whistleblower lawyers are for firms specializing in qui tam work (cases for which most government employees are ineligible), rather than the less profitable government employee work--so there's no need to take rejections personally. Their web pages may still provide helpful general information.

Confidentiality must be requested and discussed to have any chance of being honored. It may not be consistent with the agendas of the most advocacy oriented. Remember: discussions with non-attorneys (especially lobbyists or p.r. people) at those or any other offices are probably not covered by the confidentiality inherent in the attorney-client privilege. Their very existence might raise various red flags for federal employees with security clearances, because some might put their own publicity agendas above the obvious need for confidentiality in government investigations, for example.

For what it's worth, GAP, Public Citizen and PEER appear founded by persons at least once associated with Ralph Nader and his various organizations, along with others under the Good Government Groups umbrella. Accuracy in Media and Judicial Watch are on the other side of the political spectrum. Of course, the ACLU is pretty much the granddaddy of non-governmental organizations, but is still a youngster compared to the centuries-old American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This webmaster chose not to add a link for the California Federal School of Law, an unaccredited California correspondence institution with main office (campus?) on a residential street in Washington, DC's tony Friendship Heights neighborhood. Four MSPB insiders from inside the Beltway put that together. Their expertise is agency/management-side. Of course, you can catch them (and their other projects, the Federal Employment Law Training Group, Inc. and Dewey Publications) on google.


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