Press Release
September 27, 2022

WASHINGTON – The FBI suspended FBI Special Agent Steve Friend’s security clearance shortly after he made legally protected disclosures of FBI misconduct involving improper record-keeping, waste of resources, and risks to public safety posed by the overuse of SWAT teams and tactics in nonviolent misdemeanor January 6-related cases. Empower Oversight is assisting him in making further protected disclosures and challenging his improper suspension.

Special Agent Friend made protected disclosures to his supervisors, to the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG), to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and to several offices on Capitol Hill—including the FBI’s oversight committees in the House and Senate. He provided his complaint to staff for both Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Yesterday, Senator Grassley and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding to know what they are doing to stop this illegal whistleblower retaliation on their watch. Last week, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote to the FBI about these disclosures as well.

The FBI is currently requiring Special Agent Friend to use annual leave during his suspension, which will be without pay once his leave is exhausted.

Jason Foster, Founder and President of Empower Oversight, released the following statement:  

“Steve Friend is a patriot who did the right thing and is being punished for it. It is outrageous to abuse the legitimate process of a security clearance investigation as an illegitimate pretext to retaliate against someone for protected whistleblowing. Blowing the whistle is not a valid reason to label someone a security risk.

“There will never be accountability in government if courageous whistleblowers are punished for speaking out. Those involved in retaliating against Special Agent Friend need to answer to the proper oversight authorities. Bureau leadership, DOJ, its Inspector General, and Congressional oversight committees have an obligation to put a stop to it.”

Dan Meyer, Whistleblower Advisor to Empower Oversight, Managing Partner at Tully Rinckey, and attorney for Special Agent Friend also released the following statement:

“This is about good governance, whether Federal investigations are executed according to law, rule, and regulation. Steve stepped forward to report investigative misconduct. He has a right and a duty to report wrongdoing, and that’s exactly what he did. The Director should elevate him as a role model for his peer Special Agents.”

Read here or watch here to learn more about the whistleblower complaint.

If you have first-hand information you’d like to disclose to assist Empower Oversight with these inquiries, please contact us confidentially here.