Doing the Right Thing Wins Whistle-blower $13.7 Million
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ George Green was treated like a criminal after he dared to speak out against suspected corruption and mismanagement at the state agency where he worked.
His appointments and telephone calls he made from his job at the state Department of Human Services were investigated. He was indicted for falsifying documents _ charges eventually dropped _ and fired.
Green received some measure of vindication Wednesday _ four years after he won a court battle against the state. Legislative leaders finally voted unanimously to settle his case for $13.7 million.
Choking back tears at times, Green said he had tried ``to do the right thing.″
``I believe I stood the ground to the best of my ability,″ said Green, who has not worked since his firing in 1989. ``There was damage done here, and the state is not above the law.″
No action was ever taken against the agency that fired him, and if his allegations were investigated, the findings were never made public. Most of his former supervisors still work for the state and some were even promoted.
Green worked at the department for six years as an architect.
Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock called the case a ``black mark on the history of Texas.″
``You reported your allegations to the executive director of the agency. And what did you get? The solicitor general started an investigation of you, sir. They followed you as if you were a common criminal _ and found nothing,″ Bullock said.
About 2 1/2 years of his phone records were scrutinized. The agency found one improper call worth 13 cents.
Green, 47, said he grew frustrated with corruption, fraud, safety violations and overall mismanagement in the way construction contracts were handled at the Department of Human Services, which administers aid to poor families.
Green sued under the whistle-blower law, written to protect state employees from retaliation. In 1991, a jury awarded him $13.6 million. But for four years, the state refused to pay, losing appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court. All the while, the award collected interest.
Green will receive about $8.9 million of the settlement, the remainder going to his lawyers and a contributor to his defense.
``Stand tall, George,″ Bullock said as he shook Green’s hand.