U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has gone to bat for a Missouri National Guard whistleblower who was fired in 2014, less than a week after voicing complaints about toxic working conditions and lack of proper tools needed to do his job.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sen. McCaskill sent a letter to the Missouri National Guard July 13 asking what its leaders’ intentions are in light of a Department of Defense determination that Guard officer Michael Sandknop was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for his complaints.
In a 34-page report on Mr. Sandknop’s case, Department of Defense Inspector General Glenn Fine orders the Missouri National Guard to reinstate Sandknop, pay him compensatory damages, and wipe his record clean.
“A separate report on a second contractor who worked with Sandknop, Colby Powell, reached identical conclusions,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
The report on Mr. Sandknop’s case was made public on June 7, but the Missouri National Guard has not acted on it since.
“We depend on whistleblowers to be our eyes and ears on the ground; they’re often the first to identify when taxpayer dollars are being wasted or officials are abusing their office – and they’ve got to be able to come forward without losing their jobs,” McCaskill said in the letter, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I look forward to answers from the Missouri National Guard on what it can do to help Mr. Sandknop, and how it will prevent retaliation like this from happening again.”
Mr. Sandknop, a multimedia specialist, was charged with producing a monthly TV show about the Guard. He was put on leave and then fired within a week of voicing his complaint.
Even though a National Guard Inspector General agreed with Sandknop’s allegations in 2014, it did not recommend that Mr. Sandknop be reinstated or compensated. Mr. Sandknop appealed to the Department of Defense, but the appeal was denied at first. Now Sen. McCaskill and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have intervened on Mr. Sandknop’s behalf, pressing the Defense Department to have him reinstated and compensated.