Monday, February 24, 2014

Retirement of a Courageous Congressman: U.S. Rep. John David Dingell, Jr. of Michigan

It is with a deep and heavy heart that I read this morning that Rep. John David Dingell, Jr. (D-Michigan) is retiring from the House of Representatives. The Dean of the House, Rep. Dingell long chaired the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and chaired the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Rep. Dingell passionately championed the protection of whistleblowers and the investigations of the wrongdoers they exposed. Rep. Dingell and his huge staff worked with investigative reporters and progressive lawyers to expose wrongdoing.
In 1992, in response to a Department of Labor investigation's finding about Mr. C.D. Varnadore (my client) being subjected to torture by Oak Ridge National Laboratory -- ordered to sit three feet from radioactive waste barrels, and in mercury-contaminated room as his "home base" -- Rep. Dingell wrote a scathing letter to the Secretary of Energy, Admiral Steven Watkins. The letter resulted in DOE giving individual employees shutdown authority, to halt unsafe operations and refuse to participate in them, and resulted in DOE cutting off funds for Martin Marietta's legal defense. It was the first time in the history of the nuclear weapons complext the government did not pay a contractor's legal fees. Before that, the government even paid criminal fines and penalties assessed against its nuclear weapons plant contractors.
He was a tiger -- a tiger who would write and send letters known as Dingell-grams to federal agencies, demanding answers, demanding documents and exposing the truth in wonderfully conducted Congressional hearings that lasted for hours, with witnesses sworn in under oath. He exposed the $600 Pentagon toilet seat, waste, fraud and abuse, and scientific fraud, and forced resignations of corrupt EPA officials, and helped send a number of Food and Drug Administration officials to prison.
Nuclear bomb factories in particular were exposed by Rep. Dingell's awesome investigative staff.
Rep. Dingell and his staff helped CNN uncover the wrongdoing of Martin Marietta, directed toward my client, Dr. William K. Reid, M.D., in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Rep. Dingell's staff once referred me the whistleblower case of a Senior Special Agent of the EPA Office of Inspecor General, and together he and I made history, running off EPA's longtime crooked Inspector General, John C. Martin, who had harassed EPA whistleblowers for thirteen years (1983-1996).

Amid a current Congress filled with second-rate minds and mediocrities, Rep. Dingell is in sharp and marked contrast.

Rep. John J. Dingell, Jr. was first elected to Congress in 1955, filling the seat formerly held by his late father. He is the longest-serving member of Congress, and turns 88 on July 8, 2014.
Rep. Dingell defies liberal or conservative stereotypes. He is an NRA member who opposes gun control, an ardent supporter of free trade unions at home and abroad, a strong environmentalist who has sometimes defended Detroit auto companies, and a fighting liberal lion who supports single-payer national health care.
Rep. John David Dingell, Jr. is a giant, and a mensch. He will be missed.
We need more Lincolns, more Dingells and fewer Nixons.
What do you reckon?

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