Examples of whistleblowers

Bradley Birkenfeld was a wealth manager and international banker for UBS. He exposed illegal accounts held by U.S. citizens in Switzerland, leading to the recovery of more than $5 billion for taxpayers. He received an award of $104 million for exposing the secrets of the Swiss banking system. 

Peter Buxton, who worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, in 1972 exposed a program in which the agency studied syphilis in nearly 400 African American men without telling them they had the disease.

Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst, gave the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times and the Washington Post. The papers provided insight into the United States’ involvement in Vietnam and how the government had lied.

Ron Ridenhour exposed U.S. soldiers’ actions during the Mai Lai village massacre of the Vietnam war in which hundreds of civilians were killed.

Karen Silkwood, an employee at the Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant in Oklahoma, testified before the Atomic Energy Commission about health violations at the plant. She died in November 1974 in a car crash on her way to give documents to a New York Times reporter.

Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency, leaked classified documents about the government’s program to gather information on private citizens through electronic surveillance.

Linda Tripp, a former member of the White House staff, provided information to the special counsel about an affair between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. This ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment for lying about his involvement with the intern.

Sherron Watkins, a vice president at Enron, exposed corporate misconduct and improper accounting practices that ultimately led to Enron’s collapse.

Jeffrey Wigand appeared on 60 Minutes to disclose the tobacco industry’s nicotine manipulation and efforts to deny health and safety issues.

Reality Winner, a former linguist for the Air Force, leaked a top-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. She was sentenced to five years in prison for unauthorized transmission of national defense information.

Contact Elaine Silvestrini at Elaine@legalexaminer.com. Follow her on Twitter at @WriterElaineS.