Please circulate this letter, especially in the State of Washington.

 

Progress report

 

On May 12, 2003, my appeal was heard in the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II.  Exactly 20 minutes were permitted for each side.  A decision can be expected from one month to a year or so after the hearing, depending upon how long it takes the three judges to reach an agreement.  The appeal of the lawsuit against the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife is separate from the appeal of the MSPB decision in the whistleblower/veteran issue against the U. S. Forest Service, although the Forest Service influenced the actions of the state agencies.

 

Charles Heckman 

 

 

                                                                       315 93rd Ave, S.W.

                                                                        Olympia, WA 98512-9101

                                                                        May 16, 2003

                                                                        Tel. & FAX (360) 352 8564

Honorable Brian Baird

United States Congress

House of Representatives

Washington, D. C. 20515

FAX: 352 9241

 

An open letter

Personal reply requested

 

Dear Congressman Baird:

 

   On May 20, 2003, it will be exactly four years since I was permitted to have gainful employment in the United States.  Your office was provided a large set of documents explaining about my report of a $20,000 bribe offer to keep me from benefiting from my statutory right to veterans’ preference, the settlement agreement under which I was given employment as a research scientist at Olympia, and the wrongful termination resulting from my whistleblowing and refusal to change a report containing a second protected disclosure about a junk science project being funded with $208,000 of Forest Service funds.

   My appeal to the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB), which was supposed to be decided within 120 days, took 23 months for an initial decision to be issued and an additional 15 months for the MSPB to decide not to review the initial decision.  The matter is now being appealed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Information provided to Congress by experts on the performance of the MSPB has shown that protection of whistleblowers is practically non-existent.  Although the MSPB did reinstate four whistleblowers, two of them were simply fired again by the agency and not reinstated the second time, even though the connection between the first case of reprisal and the second was unmistakable.  Why is the MSPB defending the wrongdoers and punishing those who disclose the wrongdoing?

   This letter does not concern my personal problem, however.  As many other whistleblowers have reported, the misconduct or gross waste that the whistleblower disclosed often continues without the agency ever seriously investigating it.  The whistleblower has therefore sacrificed his or her job and wound up on the customary government blacklist without even seeing the misconduct corrected.  What is the roll of Congress in this kind of activity?  Does Congress appropriate money to the agencies each year without even taking cognizance of the fact that much of the money is stolen or misappropriated through fraud?

   In 1980 and 1981, there were investigations of fraud and theft in the Federal civil service.  At the time, the General Accounting Office estimated that tens of billions of dollars were being lost by Federal agencies through fraud.  The Department of Justice estimated that about 10% of the entire Federal budget was lost in this way.  At the present time, disabled, retired veterans are being denied concurrent receipt of retirement pay and disability payments on the grounds that it might someday cost the government about $4.7 billion dollars.  Concurrent receipt of these benefits and many of the medical services that were promised but have been wrongfully denied to veterans could be provided with just a small percentage of the money being stolen or fraudulently misappropriated with the knowledge and consent of Federal civil servants.

   From the personal case I have informed you about, you know that six employees of the Pacific Northwest Research Station have committed enough serious crimes to bring their organization within the definition of organized crime outlined in the RICO statute.  In summary, it was established that the following felonies and misdemeanors were committed or attempted:

1.     The deliberate misappropriation of $20,000 from Forest Service funds earmarked for equipment purchases, which was initiated by Tricia Wurtz and her supervisor, Hermann Gucinski, and prevented only by my disclosure.  While $20,000 might be written off as insignificant by the Department of Agriculture, it nevertheless qualifies to make the perpetrators guilty of grand larceny, a felony.  This was established by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, but nobody was prosecuted.

2.     The $20,000 was to be used as a bribe to induce me relinquish my right to veterans’ preference by withdrawing from the selection under threat that the selection would otherwise be cancelled.  A bribe exceeding $10,000 should also have been prosecuted as a felony, but there was no prosecution.

3.     The actions of Tricia Wurtz and Hermann Gucinski were punished as a prohibited personnel practice, and Wurtz was suspended for a week without pay, while Gucinski received only a letter of reprimand.  Both received fully satisfactory performance evaluations for the period from Station Director Thomas Mills.

4.     Thomas Mills was forced by the U. S. Office of Special Counsel to enter into a settlement agreement, which circumstances show he was preparing to violate through his direct representative, Deanna Stouder.  This is the prohibited personnel practice of reprisal for whistleblowing as well as a civil violation.

5.     My direct supervisor, Peter Bisson, was included as one of 11 authors of a 7 page publication by a group headed by Charles Hawkins of Utah State University, who received a $208,000 grant from the Forest Service to develop a new method of “rapid bioassessment” based on the British RivPac system.  Peter Bisson was the designated coordinator of the project for the Forest Service.  For reasons outlined in a report I was assigned to write to evaluate this and similar research, the project could should be considered “junk science,” and the money spent on it could be deemed a gross waste of public funds justified through fraudulent promises.  That this was not an unreasonable conclusion was grudgingly admitted by the MSPB, which ruled that this was a second disclosure protected under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, but “resisting” orders to change my report under threat of termination was not seen by the MSPB to be an abuse of authority.  A case could certainly be made for collusion between Hawkins and Bisson to defraud the government out of $208,000.

6.     During the hearing before the MSPB, Deanna Stouder was clearly shown to have committed perjury several times.  The testimony and cross-examination were recorded, and the evidence is undeniable.  Perjury is a felony.

7.     Similarly, Peter Bisson, committed perjury during the hearing, and the evidence is on the recording.

8.     Deanna Stouder committed a misdemeanor when she violated the Privacy Act and released portions of my personnel records over the phone without my permission.  This resulted in my being denied employment with the Washington State Department of Ecology, a clear violation of the Washington anti-blacklisting statute, as well as the Federal law.

   In addition to the disclosures designated protected by the MSPB, my reports also revealed that Peter Bisson himself was wasting his share of a $130,000 research grant on a fish survey using electroshock methods that had already been discredited during the early 1960s and were shown in 1998 to decimate populations of rare and endangered species.  They also showed that the students employed by Utah State University for the Forest Service project and any member of the general public who happened to be nearby were being needlessly exposed to a suspected carcinogen and highly toxic chemical, which the Federal manual clearly states may not be used without the immediate availability of various safety devices, such as a glove box, and first aid facilities, which are not available in the Olympic National Forest, where they were working.  These were excluded as protected disclosures by the MSPB on technical legal grounds created by the MSPB and contradictory to the intent and specific wording of Congress when it passed the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

   This is a request for a statement from you on the propriety of allowing Federal civil servants to commit criminal acts, including direct theft of the funds under their control, disbursement of funds for research based on fraudulent promises, bribery, and perjury.  Should you be approving the Department of Agriculture budget with knowledge that large portions of these funds are being fraudulently misappropriated and that Department of Agriculture supervisory personnel know about this but take no action to stop it?  Experts on the treatment of whistleblowers have gone so far as to say that if a Federal employee learns that a co-worker at the next desk is stealing tens of thousands of dollars, he should keep his mouth shut or face the severest reprisal without the thief being punished or even stopped from stealing.  Certainly, the amount of money now being stolen by dishonest civil servants far exceeds the amounts that were misappropriated in 1980 and apparently accounts for a sizable percentage of the entire Federal budget.  It may even exceed the total amount appropriated for the vast veterans’ health care system.  Today, a system exists to permit and encourage Federal employees to steal as much as they can carry away with impunity.  It also offers them criminal and civil immunity for perjury if their testimony pleases their supervisors.  Why does Congress permit this to go on?

   This letter and your answer to it will be given the widest possible circulation through the internet.  I hope you will be able to provide a solution that permits public servants committing criminal actions to be punished, thereby reducing the enormous loss of public funds, making them available to revitalize the veterans’ medical care system and pay disabled veterans both retirement and disability.

   Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I am hoping for an early reply.

 

                                                                                            Sincerely yours,

 

 

                                                                        Charles W. Heckman

                                                                                    Dr. Sci., habil.