Press Release
May 18, 2023

WASHINGTON — Today, Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt testified alongside Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblower clients before the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on Federal Government Weaponization. The full opening statement from Leavitt can be read here and watched here.

Leavitt explained to Members of Congress how the FBI has abused the security clearance process to circumvent whistleblower protections and retaliate against employees who report wrongdoing. Leavitt described in detail the legal framework that the FBI exploits to escape accountability for improperly retaliating against whistleblowers like Empower Oversight clients Marcus Allen and Steve Friend, who also testified to the subcommittee about their cases.

Empower Oversight recently filed a complaint (PDF) to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on behalf of Marcus Allen, an FBI Staff Operations Specialist who forwarded to his supervisors news articles from The New York Times and Revolver News raising concerns about the accuracy of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Senate testimony regarding whether the FBI had infiltrated groups involved in the events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Highlighting relevant open source intelligence from news reports related to cases worked in his office for others’ situational awareness was a regular part of Allen’s duties, but only created a problem for Allen after he forwarded information calling into question the veracity of the FBI Director’s congressional testimony.

Empower Oversight also assisted Steve Friend, against whom the FBI retaliated for making protected disclosures to his supervisors about wasted resources, failure to follow normal FBI regulations, and threats to public safety related to the Bureau’s sprawling January 6th probes.

“FBI whistleblowers have second-class status compared to those in most federal agencies. … Congress should treat the FBI the same as other federal law enforcement agencies, eliminating its special exception and giving its employees access to OSC to investigate retaliation. The hardworking employees of the FBI deserve equal protection of the law,” Leavitt said.

“When the FBI suspends a clearance it also immediately suspends the employee indefinitely without pay. To make matters worse, it holds them and their families hostage by requiring them to get permission to take another job—permission the FBI routinely denies.  Congress needs to ensure the FBI stops this abuse,” Leavitt concluded.

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