My name is Charles Langley, and I’m a whistle blower, too.
I’d like to tell you what every whistle blower must know, and explode a few myths.
My recommendation: Blow the whistle, but stay anonymous.
I call this the “silent whistle.” By staying anonymous you will protect your reputation. Even better, it makes you more dangerous because the bad guys won’t know where the leaks are coming from. In some cases, they won’t even be aware that a whistle blower is the source of all their problems.
My whistle blowing story
When I blew the whistle on my former employer I had no idea what I was getting into. My colleagues and I had uncovered evidence showing that my employer was engaged in activities that strongly resembled money laundering and embezzling. We had the secret off the books bank accounts, the money-laundering documents, and thousands of pages of evidence.
I reported these activities confidentially to the Board of Directors who I thought would conduct a serious investigation. We figured they would look at the evidence, take steps to protect the books, and fire the crooks … but that only happens in movies.
Instead, they did what the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is doing now: They hired high priced attorneys to conduct a cover up. They smoothed things over with the higher-ups at the FBI and the Department of Justice.
They were really sneaky about it.
Those high-dollar attorneys made it sound like they wanted to get to the bottom of any potential fraud or criminal activity, but what they really were doing was acting as a criminal defense attorneys for the organization. They told us to give them all the evidence, just like they’re doing at CPUC. “Tell us all you know” they said, making it sound as if they had our best interests at heart (they didn’t).
And neither do CPUC’s high-dollar criminal defense attorneys. Its not that they are evil people, its just that they have sworn to protect the people who are doing the evil at CPUC.
And we all know what happens next … all of the incriminating evidence gets covered up. I didn’t know that at the time, but this is what organizations do when they must conceal criminal activities like the documented crimes that are going on at CPUC.
Oh sure, there were a few high-profile resignations and early retirements, but we both know the crimes are still going on.
Fortunately you can do something about it. You can reach out to me — your fellow whistle blower — and I will make sure the truth gets out. What’s more, I’ll keep your identity an inviolable secret. Your identity will never be revealed.
Now a few “gothchas” every whistle blower should know about (and some good news, too).
First, it is unlikely you’ll ever make a dime as a whistle blower going up against a big government agency. It rarely happens. I don’t care what your attorney tells you. If you are doing this for the money, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
Second, if you go public, it will be the last job you ever have. If there is a payout or reward, it is unlikely that it will be enough to offset the money you were making at your job.
Third, if you go public, they will try (and probably succeed) at destroying your reputation. If they don’t destroy your reputation publicly, they do it privately in a manner that makes sure you never work again. This always happens.
That’s the bad news, but here’s the good news:
If you go public, many people will admire you and thank you for your integrity and courage. It will feel good to hear those words, but the words won’t pay your mortgage, help you get decent medical care, or pay your utility bills. The only support you’ll get is “moral support” and it won’t pay your bills.
If you are troubled by unlawful behavior at your place of work, you can blow the whistle anonymously. This is the safest way to proceed. You’ll sleep better at night knowing that you can still care for your family and that you’ve done what you can to change the world for the better.
As I say, there is rarely a huge financial reward for a whistle blower, but there is the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing. You’ll be able to look your children in the eye, and you’ll sleep well knowing you’ve done everything you can within reason.
That’s my promise to you.
I remain, respectfully yours,
Founder and Executive Director, Public Watchdogs
P.S. Every major utility rate case where rates have been significantly reduced at CPUC is the result of a utility whistle blower. Without these brave (and anonymous) souls, California’s utility rates would probably be the highest in the nation.
P.P.S. Don’t call me from your office phone, and don’t email me from your work computer, your work email address, or your agency issued cell phone. CPUC has spent more than $12 million on the cover ups.