GovernmentLeadershipLegalNews and Politics

No, you don’t get to face your accuser (Small business beware!)

Anonymous whistleblower complaints are a powerful government force regularly used against small business owners.

Over the weekend Donald Tump tweeted another indication of his misunderstanding of how government works. False Tweets from Trump are hardly noteworthy in themselves but this one hits a nerve for me. As a small business owner I’ve faced at least a dozen whistleblower complaints over the years. All were investigated and dismissed as false, but they still keep coming. Then this year an interesting thing happened. Failing to find merit in the whistleblower’s complaint, an investigator made up her own false charge. It’s a story that I think every small business owner needs to hear how damaging whistleblower attacks can be when used repeatedly as a business or political weapon.

The plain and simple fact is that in this country you do not get to face your whistleblower. You can face false whistleblower complaints over and over again in rapid succession, by different government agencies and different legal jurisdictions. In fact, there are no protections in place for those accused. It may not be fair but that’s how the law works.

I’ve had more than my share of experience with this subject. These three recent examples prove the point:

On multiple times including this year I’ve been falsely accused of housing undocumented immigrants. Two government SUV surveillance vehicles parked on the road outside my house this summer. I let them know that while they were observing me, I was observing them. I took photos and shared them on social media. Neighbors believed the rumor. I just laughed. Recently even the U.S. census bureau worker seemed to believe that I had people living in outbuildings. I have a clue of who made the whistleblower report, but I’ll never get to face him or hold him accountable for the aggravation. That’s just how it works.

Last year I faced another false whistleblower report. This time I was told that the accuser was a worker within the Pennsylvania Board of Accountancy but I do not know the name of the accuser. The accusation was that I was doing public accounting work from within my former home in Pennsylvania. I gave that home to my wife some years ago. While I do sometimes stay there, especially in winter, and I do of course work when I am there, there is no reason for anyone to believe that this work violates any law. In fact it was pretty easy to prove that I wasn’t doing any work that the Pennsylvania government classifies as “public accounting” at the time of the complaint (the laws and legal terms vary in PA, DE and NJ where I work). But that didn’t matter. It was especially frustrating that after the state investigator completed a vigorous investigation, the complaint was dropped but I was not entitled to any form of exoneration to a complaint that clearly hurt my professional reputation.

Most recently I was falsely charged and convicted with failure to keep seafood sales records. I admit to not keeping seafood records because I don’t have any, don’t know of any, and couldn’t possibly have access to any such records because they don’t exist except perhaps in the mind of some government regulator. Again, this was based on an anonymous complaint. in this case the person in the seafood industry told me that he made the complaint, told me that he had the investigators “on his payroll” and that he intended to “bury me” for the social justice actions ive taken in hopes of reforming the local industry. Long story short:the whistleblower complaint was investigated and dismissed, he died, I was convicted of an alternate substitute charge of being unable to produce other compay’s records. The only evidence used in vourt was based on the professional seafood cooperative’s marketing consultant’s work that was properly authorized to use my web site accounts for posting. (This isnt the first time I’ve faced charges for an content marketing program but it was the first time I was convicted for it. Apparently the government believes that if it is online with your name attached then you are responsible for it even if all evidence shows it was not true and that you did not post it. I continue to havea strong problem with this specific aspect of the law).

These are just a few cases. Two more recent examples immediately come to mind and I’m sure there are other similar cases further in my past. I now conclude that the more powerful political enemies I make, the more anonymous whistleblower complaints i will face. The emotional and legal costs of fighting whistleblower complaints can be horrendous. The bags under my eyes area direct result of stress from these actions.

Anonymous whistleblower complaints are an integral part of our government system at all levels. Small business owners seem especially vulnerable. It might be unfair, but it is how our legal system works. Everyone from small business owners to the president needs to be aware of this powerful force of government.

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