GUEST BLOG: The Department of Justice's Coming Out Party by Darrell Whitman

February 6, 2018

In 2010, attorney Darrell Whitman became a Regional Investigator for the San Francisco Region Office of Whistleblower Protection Programs ("OWWP"), which was part of the United States Department of Labor's ("DOL's") Occupational Safety and Health Administration  ("OSHA"). Beginning in 2011, Whitman and others in the San Francisco OWWP office complained that they were being hamstrung and short-circuited in their efforts to protect whistleblowers against perceived retaliation -- essentially being prevented from doing the job that they were being paid to do. In May 2015, Whitman was fired. How ironic that Whitman, an OWWP investigator charged with protecting whistleblowers from retaliation, found himself the victim of alleged retaliation by OWWP. In response to his termination, Whitman sued.

Historic Federal Reserve Restrictions On Wells Fargo ( Blog
February 5, 2018)

"GUEST BLOG: A FAILURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: Wells Fargo Fraud Goes Unanswered As Washington Dithers" By Darrell Whitman ( Blog, September 5, 2017)

NOTE: The views expressed in this Guest Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Blog.

The Department of Justice's Coming Out Party 

Bear with me, but before I add my bit of fuel to the fire building under the Department of Justice, I have to issue several disclaimers:

ONE: I'm not a Russian agent! I do have a few ethnic Russian friends and neighbors, but I've never met ANY Russian government officials, or any Russians actually living in Russia and/or working for Russian interests. I do live in Moldova, a quaint and considerably civil little country a mere 400 miles from Russia. But it can't be said it is in any way a Russian ally. In fact, Moldova was an early leaver from the old Soviet Union, mounting a full-scale push against their pro-Soviet government in 1989, three years before the rest of the pack jumped ship. 

TWO: I'm not a Trump agent either! I didn't vote for or support Trump as a candidate, and I'm not even a Republican. Of course, I'm not a member of the Democrat Party either, and tend to lean toward Libertarian on many issues, and particularly on the importance of the law. I did once actually work for the Democrat Party's Congressional Campaign Committee back in 1982, before I stopped drinking the kool-aid offered up by its leadership. It was a good choice, and something I try to recommend to my friends who still cling to the illusion that there is any democracy in the Democrat Party. 

THREE: I'm not part of a plot by anyone, other than a group of whistleblowers with whom I worked from 2010 to 2015 before I was booted out of my job as an investigator with OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. It was there I quite innocently and unexpectedly ran into the cesspool of corruption that has engulfed a good part of the government, including not only the Whistleblower Protection Program, OSHA and the Department of Labor more generally, but also the Office of Special Counsel (before the arrival of Henry Kerner last October), and, yes, the Obama White House too. A really nasty bunch that in better times would have been locked up long ago. 

Such are the times! But with those disclaimers in mind, let me share with you some recent developments and observations regarding the Department of Justice and its failed investigations into Wells Fargo.

The Mess at the Department of Justice

If you read the New York Times, Washington Post, or other "mainstream" media over the weekend, you'd come away with the impression that but for Donald Trump and his Republican loyalists all is well at the U.S. Department of Justice. It would be understandable if you believed that because these folks are well practiced in the arts of propaganda. But, you'd be wrong. 

A better approach to finding truth would be to connect dots that have recently appeared, starting with the Federal Reserve taking the "unprecedented" step of collaring Wells Fargo Bank. We should all give a shout out to the Fed for doing that because the DoJ, which is tasked with taking corrective action in cases like these, is asleep at the wheel. 
As you might remember from a couple of earlier postings, I participated in three Wells investigations while I was working at OSHA, and all three failed not only to gain traction, but as evidence suggests were knowingly and intentionally buried by OSHA. As I noted in another Broke&Broker post, in January 2017 I gave a sworn affidavit to the federal Grand Jury in San Francisco, supported by multiple documents, which made a strong case Wells management knew about the fraud, at least by May 2010. The Grand Jury was convened in November 2016 to allegedly investigate this fraud, but after I received a nice "thank you" from the DoJ attorney in charge, there was . . . nothing. So, I wrote to AG Sessions in July last year asking whether or not the DoJ was continuing to investigate, and whether the investigation would include OSHA's role. I received a hilarious reply in September, saying my questions were referred to the DoJ Criminal Division, and I would be hearing from them in about 90 days. Last week, that reply finally came. As you can see below, it was written without a scintilla of self-respect, offering:
Dear Mr. Whitman:    
Thank you for writing the Criminal Division. We have been asked to respond to you on his behalf.
Any future correspondence with this office regarding this same matter would be unnecessary. We urge you to review the previous responses sent by our office.
Again, thank you for writing the Criminal Division. We regret we cannot be of further assistance.
Correspondence Management Staff
Office of Administration
Reference Number: TC300648487

Of course, they didn't answer my questions - I didn't expect they would, and unlike the earlier DoJ letter, no one even wanted to put their name on this work of not-art. But, at least I was amused reading, "Any future correspondence with this office regarding this same matter would be unnecessary." This came before Friday's release of the Nunes memo and the Fed's actions taking Wells to the woodshed. And if read together, they put the issue of a failing DoJ squarely at the center of a growing awareness not all is well, either at the DoJ, or at many other federal agencies. 

The Resurrection of the OSC

Good news!! The cavalry broke though enemy lines and arrived at the OSC in late October last year. Led by new sheriff Henry Kerner - not to be confused with Carolyn Lerner, the troops took control and are restoring a sense of professionalism and public purpose to the Agency. That's good news because the OSC is one of those gate-keeping agencies tasked with protecting the integrity of the federal government. That integrity went missing years ago, but somewhere along the line Henry found it and brought it back to the agency. He also brought some like-minded folks with him to take over from the old Lerner crowd who couldn't find their shoe laces. These new folks actually know something about the law and how to conduct an investigation. As one of his first acts, sheriff Kerner let everyone know there's only one door into the OSC - the front door, and that once inside inside you'll find the furniture's been rearranged to avoid the impression the place is for sale. 

The best news for me . . . and I hope for you too, is they found my disclosures after 33 months of being lost in the Lerner weed-patch (although, I suspect they weren't so much lost as buried). The even better news is they have a genuine lawyer looking at it, asking questions, and talking to people. Amazing what can happen when you have a real leader. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff is tough when faced with disclosures implicating high-level government officials in corruption, if not outright law breaking, and documents that run into the thousands of pages. Yet, in a mere five weeks, the real attorney is already seeing the big picture, and she appears intent on actually taking action, which should be announced very soon.

The Next Shoe to Drop 

With the New York Times, Washington Post, et al. busily shoveling sand into the eyes of the public, they don't see the second shoe that'about to drop. The shoe will come in the form of an order by the OSC to investigate the disclosures I made to them in January 2015. Had those disclosures been timely investigated, the Wells scandal may have been exposed a year earlier than in 2016 and not been caught up in the craziness of the Presidential election campaign. I'm sure the Lerner crowd will deny it, but their inability to move a muscle to investigate the disclosures conveniently bottled them up, allowing Obama White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough to claim, as he did to the Post in January 2017, he was "proud" no scandals emerged on his watch. But Lerner took the charade one step farther by continuing to slow-walk any review through her last day at OSC in June. The 33 months of dead time, however, was all she could squeeze out, and now that Kerner has begun cleaning out his corner of the swamp, the OSC will move forward with an investigation, including those cases involving Wells fraud. 

This second shoe will create quite a thud when it lands. While it will broadly focus on corruption in OSHA, it will also begin to unravel how that curtain of corruption was supported, if not promoted, by high-level officials in the Democrat Party, and protected by high-level and heavily politicized bureaucrats in a wide range of government agencies. I now can easily identify a dozen political figures, some well-known and others flying under the radar, who will have questions to answer, and as the investigation continues that number will grow exponentially. I know can also identify by name a least a dozen senior bureaucrats who are in the same boat drifting in the same direction, and that number also will grow as the investigation takes root. 

More importantly, achieving this investigation - if it happens and is credible, will go a long way toward restoring the rule of law. The sad consequences of corruption has been the disregard for law it has bred, even among otherwise honorable people. They come to believe there aren't any consequences and that corruption is simply part of their job. That leads to the delusion among senior bureaucrats that they are a fifth estate of government, which can independently decide what laws are enforced, and which are ignored. They've been doing that for a long time, which is why we're all in a lot of trouble today. 


Darrell Whitman, Esq.

DARELL WHITMAN is a former Regional Investigator with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's ("OSHA's") Whistleblower Protection Program. Whitman is a licensed attorney and also holds a Ph.D. in politics and public policy. Dr. Whitman is a founding member and a contributing editor to the Journal of Global Faultlines.  He is currently based in Chisinau, Moldova, where he is working on a book about post-Soviet Eastern Europe.