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We are concerned federal agency employees, who took our oaths of office expecting merit-based agency employment practices, not corrupt ones. Cathy Harris has a duty to report to the President and Congress whether we are adequately protected from whistleblower reprisal and other corrupt agency employment practices—what is her report? We are also Americans who realize that our health, safety, security and welfare is harmed when federal agency employees are not adequately protected from reprisal and other corrupt agency employment practices.

Joseph (Joe) Carson, PE

Joseph (Joe) Carson, PE (PE stands for “Professional Engineer”) is arguably the GOAT – greatest of all time – of career federal agency whistleblowers. He has prevailed in at least eight separate whistleblower reprisal related decisions at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). He has been a nuclear safety engineer and whistleblower in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for over 30 years. He is also an influential member of humanity’s largest and most global profession of engineering regarding the scope and implementation of its code of ethics—its secular creed/DNA.

His whistleblowing about workplace and public health and safety issues in the 1990s—and his “prevailing” numerous times at MSPB against DOE’s lawyer-led campaign of reprisal—played a positive, perhaps essential, role in the passage of the landmark law in 2000 – the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). By it, over 135,000 patriotic, trusting workers in DOE facilities during the Cold War have received over 20 billion dollars in compensation for being put in harm’s way, without their knowledge or adequate protection.

DOE attorneys, in Engineer (Engr.) Carson’s public testimony, have much blood on their hands, given how they continually represented there were no workplace hazards in DOE facilities, silenced whistleblowers who claimed otherwise, and prevented any successful claim of workplace harm against DOE. Their “success” forced Congress to pass a law to provide some compensation to those harmed in DOE facilities—the same workers that DOE lawyers repeatedly claimed deserved nothing.

Engr. Carson is named for a New York City fireman, his grandfather. He grew up in Brooklyn and watched the erection of the World Trade Center when walking to the subway to go to HS. He visited it regularly after it opened. His strongest initial and lasting reaction to 9/11 is…….RELIEF—it was NOT nuclear, knowing firsthand as he does the lawyer-led corruption and dysfunction in DOE, the custodian of America’s nuclear stockpile and the lead federal agency for securing nuclear weapon material around the world.

After non-violently—and successfully, at least in degree—confronting DOE’s lawyer-led reprisal for ten years prior to 9/11, he realized that DOE’s corrupt employment practices did not happen in a vacuum. He realized that the agency specifically created to protect him from what repeatly happened to him—the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC)—was a decades-long, law-breaking fraud of a federal law enforcement agency.

He realized that while DOE lawyers singled him out for reprisal, to OSC lawyers (about 80% of OSC’s 120 employees are attorneys) he was just “another face in the crowd.” OSC’s lawyers’ lawbreaking is generic, not specific to any particular federal whistleblower—but it in an essential reason why all federal agencies can punish their whistleblowers with impunity.

He also realized that OSC’s law-breaking did not happen in a vacuum either—it was enabled by the law-breaking by the lawyer-leaders of the US Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). These Presidentially nominated, Senate confirmed lawyer-leaders have failed or refused, since the creation of MSPB in 1979, to perform their single most important statutory duty for American health, safety, security and welfare. That is to determine and report—to the President and Congress—whether federal agency employees are adequately protected from reprisal and other corrupt agency employment practices.

Since 9/11/2001, Engr. Carson, as his personal, post 9/11, mission, has been trudging along—against a phalanx of federal agency lawyers – to obtain an objective resolution of his whistleblower disclosures against the lawyers in OSC and the lawyer-leaders of MSPB. This has now included four trips to the US Supreme Court.

Just as DOE lawyers successfully prevented—for decades—the exposure of unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions and related environmental disasters in DOE, they and other agency attorneys have successfully prevented any objective resolution of Engr. Carson’s whistleblower disclosures.

Engr. Carson realizes that America has been good to him and his family, by any objective measure. He will turn 70 in early 2024 and attain 40 years of federal service shortly thereafter (including six years of decorated service as an engineering division officer on nuclear submarines). His house is paid for, his three children are financially independent, his wife is an accomplished nurse—while he still wins Senior Olympic medals. He is risking relatively little, at this point, to non-violently confront the law-breaking lawyers at DOE, OSC and MSPB.

In fact, he has offered to put 10K in escrow, to be given to their Bar Associations or other appropriate person or entity, if any of them can summon the moral courage to file a professional misconduct complaint against him with his PE licensing authority in Tennessee. The grounds for such a complaint are that his whistleblower disclosures against OSC and MSPB—and their dire impact on American health, safety, security and welfare—are not “fully truthful and objective”—as required by the rules of professional conduct of the Tennessee Engineering Board. If the Tennessee Engineering Board takes any final disciplinary action against him, then the 10K would be theirs.

Engr. Carson, unlike Cathy Harris and her predecessors at MSPB, is “sounding the alarm” – regardless of risk to his federal agency employment and PE license. Federal agency employees are NOT adequately protected from reprisal, putting American health, safety, security and welfare at increased risk and peril. Apparently, Cathy Harris and the other involved agency attorneys consider it their professional duty to protect their clients—their employing agencies—by preventing any resolution of Engr. Carson’s whistleblower disclosures, similar to how DOE attorneys “protected” DOE while allowing many thousands of DOE workers to get ill and die.

About the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)

The Presidentially nominated, Senate Confirmed, leaders of the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) have, as its name implies, a singularly important statutory duty regarding American health, safety, security and welfare.  That is to “sound the alarm” to the President and Congress when, as for decades now, federal agency employees are NOT adequately protected from reprisal and other corrupt agency employment practices.
Such corrupt agency practices violate the merit principles, the statutory bedrock for federal agency employment. The failure of MSPB’s leaders, past and current, to “sound the alarm” means the Presidential duty to “take any action necessary” to root out such corrupt agency employment practices is not activated.
Cathy Harris, as her predecessors, refuses to comply with this duty or even explain why. Stonewalling is her lawyerly tactic, similar to the stonewalling of lawyers representing the opioid companies and pedophile priests. And the stakes for American health, safety, security and welfare could be existential when agencies can readily silence or ignore their whistleblowers.

About Cathy Harris

Why does Cathy Harris stonewall the whistleblower disclosure against her and her predecessors?
In Joe Carson’s opinion it is because Cathy Harris made lots of money as a lawyer in the private section representing federal agency employees who non-violently confronting corrupt federal agency employment practices.  In this she is similar to other lawyers who specialize in federal agency employment law and who support her nomination. It is also his opinion that she (ab)uses legal ethics to justify her stonewalling by claiming to be acting in the interests of her client—the agency she now also leads, MSPB. (Joe Carson says this from personal experience, having paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees during his 30+ year, continuing, trudge, including to Cathy Harris and her firm about 20 years ago.) In Joe Carson’s opinion, a lawbreaking fraud of a US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the lawbreaking lawyer-leaders of MSPB that enable it (now including Cathy Harris) creates a steady stream of patriotic (if foolhardy) federal agency whistleblowers who need to hire private legal representation in opposing agency retribution, even as these employees frequently deplete their savings. It also is a causal factor in deep-seated corruption and dysfunction in many federal agencies and workplaces, contributing to substantial harm to American health, safety, security and welfare. If OSC were viable, the agency lawyers would not allow the agency managers to engage in reprisal against concerned federal agency employees and, even if the agency did engage in reprisal, OSC would protect the agency employee without their financial cost.
Why is the nomination of Cathy Harris opposed by Republicans?

While an attorney in private practice, up to 2020, Cathy Harris made a number of highly partisan statements on Twitter and elsewhere. Senate Republicans oppose her on the grounds of her being too partisan, given the duty of MSPB to keep partisan politics out of federal agencies and workplaces.

In June 2021, President Biden, perhaps anticipating Republican opposition, nominated her to two different roles at MSPB, one as a Member of the three person Board, the other as its Chairman. In September 2021, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a confirmation hearing for her and two other nominees to become Members of MSPB, Tristan Leavitt and Raymond Limon. She is questioned by Senator Portman about her highly partisan tweets and statements starting about minute 57:00 of the hearing video and by Senator Hawley starting about 1:11:00 of the hearing video. The printed record of this Senate Hearing, no. 117-265, is available here.

Republican members of the HSGAC opposed her confirmation, while approving the other two nominees. HSGAC unanimously approved the confirmation of Mr. Limon and Mr. Leavitt, while approving Ms. Harris on a party-line vote. Because of this and because a confirmation vote on the nominees did not occur during the 2021 Congressional session, her nominations, but not those of the other two nominees, were returned to the President at the end of the Congressional Session.

In early 2022, after Congress reconvened, President Biden again nominated Cathy Harris to the two positions at MSPB. In February, the Republicans on the HSGAC against opposed her confirmation, but the HSGAC approved it on another party-line vote. At the end of March, the Senate confirmed, by unanimous consent, Mr. Limon and Mr. Leavitt to become Members of the Board. Because of the Republican opposition to Ms. Harris, she could not be confirmed by unanimous consent.

In late May 2022, the Senate narrowly confirmed her—as a Member, not Chairman, of MSPB on a party line vote, 48-46. In June 2022, President Biden designated her as the Vice-Chairman of MSPB. In the absence of a confirmed Chairman, the Vice-Chairman becomes the Acting Chairman and that is the position Ms. Harris has held—Acting Chairman of MSPB—since.

In January 2023, with the new Congress, President Biden again nominated Cathy Harris to become Chairman of MSPB. In March, the HSGAC, again on a party line vote, recommended her for confirmation. The Senate has yet to hold a confirmation vote.

About Department of Energy Secretary Granholm

Dept. of Energy Secretary Granholm’s video on “safety conscious work environment (SCWE)”

Secretary Granholm’s Unsafety Dance

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