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Letter To Alaska Representatives Young and Miller


October 30, 2000

Dear Representative,

The Alaska Forum is writing to express our full support of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). We understand that House Resources Chairman Don Young intends to bring a "Contempt of Congress" motion against POGO to the House Floor on Tuesday - after pulling that same motion from the floor last Friday. We strongly request that you vote against any such motion. The Alaska Forum was founded on the premise that both industry and government should adhere to the laws and regulations designed to safeguard the environment; and that any concerned employees - so-called "whistleblowers" - should be free to voice their concerns in an open, retaliation-free atmosphere. POGO works for much the same ideals and indeed has proven very successful in rooting out fraud and malfeasance within government. Perhaps a little too successfully, it seems. Representative Young's crusade against POGO stems from the latter's recent successful litigation over the oil industry's royalty-ripoff schemes. This litigation has resulted in $500 million in settlements to the U.S. Treasury. Despite this clear evidence that the oil industry was admittedly cheating the American taxpayer, Representative Young has seen fit to investigate only the courageous whistleblowers who first brought the fraud to light.

    Some points to consider:
  • The House Resources Committee issued multiple subpoenas to POGO for documents that had already been submitted or didn't even exist.
  • The House Resources Committee issued subpoenas to POGO for its Executive Director's home telephone records - clearly a violation of her right to privacy.
  • The House Resources Committee issued subpoenas to POGO's out-of-town board members calling them as witnesses, then failed to pay their transportation or per diem costs in direct violation of House Rules.
Clearly, Representative Young's investigation intends to simply harass and intimidate those who had the temerity to challenge fraud and deceit in the oil industry. Should the "Contempt of Congress" motion proceed, it will be a giant step backward for whistleblower protection, workers' rights - and indeed the very concept that concerned employees, both public and private, can stand up, speak out, and affect positive change. We respectfully request that you vote against the "Contempt of Congress" motion brought by Representative Don Young against POGO.

Sincerely,

Ross Coen
Executive Director




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