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Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday announced the first director of a new office within the House to establish best practices for lawmakers to receive confidential information from whistleblowers about government wrongdoing.

The office was established as part of the House rules package adopted in January of last year at the start of the current session of Congress. But the appointment of its first director comes after the conclusion of the process launched by House Democrats to impeach President Trump.

Pelosi said that she has appointed Shanna Devine, who most recently worked at the progressive watchdog Public Citizen, to lead the Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman.

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House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry was sparked last fall by an anonymous whistleblower complaint about the president’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents while withholding nearly $400 million in security assistance.

“Whistleblowers shine a bright light on malfeasance in our government and the private sector,” Pelosi said in a statement. “There has long been a bipartisan commitment to protecting the voices of those who speak the truth and put their livelihoods on the line to root out waste, fraud and abuse.”

Pelosi added that Devine’s “deep policy experience will be vital, as the first-ever director of the Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman, as she works to ensure that the House has the support and tools to carry out our legislative oversight responsibilities for the American people.”

Under the House rules establishing the whistleblower ombudsman, the office will “promulgate best practices for whistleblower intake for offices of the House” and provide training for House offices on establishing a reporting system for whistleblowers and maintaining confidentiality to protect whistleblowers.

The identity of the whistleblower who revealed the Trump administration’s actions on Ukraine is still officially unknown, but multiple GOP lawmakers and allies of the president have tried to publicly out the person behind the complaint.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made multiple attempts during the Senate impeachment trial to mention a name that has circulated in conservative media as the whistleblower. 

Paul read the name of the alleged whistleblower on the Senate floor after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declined to read a question he submitted including that person’s name.

YouTube this week removed a video of Paul’s Senate floor speech naming the alleged whistleblower, saying that it violated its community guidelines.

Devine has most recently worked as a health and safety advocate for Public Citizen, where she has led the organization’s policy and advocacy on occupational safety, a position that also included whistleblower rights for public and private sector employees, according to the organization. She previously worked at the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organization.

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