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For Immediate Release: May 04, 2004
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

LEGAL DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED FOR CHIEF CHAMBERS

Fundraising in Anticipation of Court Fights to Restore Chief


Washington, DC -- A legal defense fund has been set up to finance court battles this spring to secure the return of Teresa Chambers as the Chief of the U.S. Park Police. Called the Honest Chief Fund, the account will be managed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Unless the U.S. Special Counsel intervenes to restore her before May 31, Chief Chambers will be able to take here case directly to civil service court, the Merit Systems Protection Board. In addition, Chief Chambers will be free to begin a challenge based on First Amendment violations in federal district court.

Apart from whistleblower-related claims, Chief Chambers' legal actions arise out of unusual factual and legal circumstances, in that her case will be:

  • The leading case protecting federal employees' rights to communicate with Congress;
  • A First Amendment case involving speech by an official spokesperson, rather than off-duty speech, revolving around the issue of whether a public servant has the right to tell the truth when responding to a reporter's question; and
  • A precedent-setting case on the abuse of summary suspension. Today, May 5, 2004, marks the start of the six month that Chief Chambers has been on paid administrative leave without any finding or decision by the Department of Interior that she did anything wrong.

Another singular aspect is that the inner workings of the Interior Office of the Solicitor have been put in evidence in the Chief Chambers matter. Associate and deputy solicitors are key witnesses to offers to forego charges and impose "gag" orders. In other words, the internal law office within the Department of Interior will be made a part of the case, allowing pre-trial discovery to penetrate areas normally off-limits.

"No expense will be spared to return Chief Chambers to work," stated PEER Communications and Outreach Director Chas Offutt, who will be leading the fundraising drive. "We have already received several generous offers from people who wanted to help but had no way to contribute. The Honest Chief Fund will let the thousands of Chief Chambers' supporters weigh in."

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Learn more and give to the Honest Chief Fund