By Joel Clement
19 July 2017

(The Washington Post) – I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.

I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration.

Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.

I am not an accountant — but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up. A few days after my reassignment, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that the department would use reassignments as part of its effort to eliminate employees; the only reasonable inference from that testimony is that he expects people to quit in response to undesirable transfers. Some of my colleagues are being relocated across the country, at taxpayer expense, to serve in equally ill-fitting jobs.

I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities. During the months preceding my reassignment, I raised the issue with White House officials, senior Interior officials and the international community, most recently at a U.N. conference in June. It is clear to me that the administration was so uncomfortable with this work, and my disclosures, that I was reassigned with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.

On 19 July 2017, the former top climate policy official at the Department of Interior filed a complaint and a whistleblower disclosure form with the Office of Special Counsel. The official, Joel Clement, says the Trump administration is threatening public health and safety by trying to silence scientists like him. Graphic: Adriana Usero / Kate Woodsome / The Washington Post

On Wednesday, I filed two forms — a complaint and a disclosure of information — with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. I filed the disclosure because eliminating my role coordinating federal engagement and leaving my former position empty exacerbate the already significant threat to the health and the safety of certain Alaska Native communities. I filed the complaint because the Trump administration clearly retaliated against me for raising awareness of this danger. Our country values the safety of our citizens, and federal employees who disclose threats to health and safety are protected from reprisal by the Whistleblower Protection Act and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

Removing a civil servant from his area of expertise and putting him in a job where he’s not needed and his experience is not relevant is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. Much more distressing, though, is what this charade means for American livelihoods. The Alaska Native villages of Kivalina, Shishmaref and Shaktoolik are perilously close to melting into the Arctic Ocean. In a region that is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the land upon which citizens’ homes and schools stand is newly vulnerable to storms, floods and waves. As permafrost melts and protective sea ice recedes, these Alaska Native villages are one superstorm from being washed away, displacing hundreds of Americans and potentially costing lives. The members of these communities could soon become refugees in their own country. [more]

I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Trump needs to be removed from office, as soon as possible. Climate scientists and other scientists are suffering under this outrageous fool who has ordered his departments to ignore science - any kind of science that does not reflect the new agenda. It is an agenda that is very dangerous and self-serving and if you grasp what I've now shared, it will make the internal politics of government employment that much worse for those who actually DO want to work and perform their jobs.

    But the real problem of course remains - ignoring climate change by suppressing science will be catastrophic for humanity, not just America. ~JR~  

  2. Anonymous said...

    This practice is normal for those who are deemed whistle-blowers or "trouble makers". The moment you expose any wrong doing, you are marked. There are various avenues available to file a complaint - but that still leaves you marked. And the government machinery operates constantly against those that have been marked as a trouble maker. Ultimately, what this means is the system refuses to reform itself, despite having alleged checks and balances within the system.

    The goal is as the author said, to make you quit. This is generally easily accomplished by oppressing the employee sufficiently enough in a wide variety of ways to have you leave to find a more accommodating career elsewhere.

    These tactics go further - they will follow you literally forever. Meaning if you try to return to government employment, your trouble maker status will prevent this. There is no doubt an illegal blacklist - certainly a 'insiders list' that is referenced by those that seek to return to government employment (and even some private employment that is dependent upon government contracts).

    Career corruption very much exists by many internal managers and departmental heads and staff. These are people that will do anything to protect themselves, anything to further their careers, and anything to silence the whistle-blowers. And they all work together, within agencies and departments, and even across government. Its an insiders group and it is very vast and extensive and found at all higher levels, everywhere.

    Part of the recruitment and position practices offered within government is to groom higher ranking employees (GS 13 level and above) by filtering out all the non-conformists to internal politics and practices. Please read that again - this has nothing to do with job performance, expertise, experience or agency mission. There is an entirely different agenda that is really at work at the higher levels that has nothing at all to do with the mission of the department but everything to do with the collusion, protection, privileges and position of the insiders group. It is self-serving and corrupt.

    I've had all kinds of these despicable practices leveled against me (GS-12) and then my short-lived desire to return to government employment was barred at ever step. I had reported the incompetence, coverup, fraud and corruption within the organization I was working for. A whistle blower has no real protection. If you do not have powerful friends within the agency to help protect you while there (or trying to return), then you have many powerful enemies that will stop at nothing to be rid of you.

    The entire machinery is self-serving and protects itself. Never forget that. Under the new Administration, the agenda for government has changed radically. Those that disagree are squeezed out or simply being eliminated. The overall tone of an agency (like Interior, who I also worked for) becomes one that reflects what the new Administration wants. Internal policies and politics change to reflect this. Endless memos and instructions are used to force these changes. The 'mission' of the agency is now changed - to suit the Administration.  

  3. Anonymous said...

    Ultimately, agencies and departments are self-serving as much as they are 'serving the public'. You have work there to understand this and experience it. This attitude is inherent to being a part of government employment. This exists in the private sector, but nobody should be fooled about how these agencies and departments are there to 'serve only the public'. That is a laughable joke. They are VERY interested in serving themselves, constantly justifying their own jobs and the 'need' they fulfill within the agency, and this is very much reflected by the internal politics practiced. This is always (always) - first and foremost. The public considerations and needs are very low in actual fact.

    There is also corruption at the highest level because these agencies and departments are having their core mission redirected. I saw this occur under other Presidents, but nothing like the Trump Administration. Appointments like Scott Pruitt's demonstrates quite easily just how much the mission can be changed by having a blithering idiot 'in charge'.  


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