Tax Day has come and gone, but honest taxpayers might be upset to learn that some of their hard-earned tax dollars may fall into the hands of criminals, rather than funding Georgia government services. To help the state combat fraud and to encourage whistleblowers to report illegal activity, Midtown private attorney and whistleblower advocate Michael A. Sullivan testified recently at Georgia legislative hearings as members voted to enact the nation's newest State False Claims Act.
Sullivan, a Sherwood Forest resident who has worked with the Federal False Claims Act since 1988, was the only private attorney asked to testify. The new act was signed into law by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal April 16 after passing unanimously in both houses of the legislature.
"Representative Edward Lindsey should be commended for spearheading this bill, which comprehensively addresses the submission of false claims to the State, the Georgia Medicaid program and local governments," said Sullivan, author of the leading whistleblower blog, and a partner in the Atlanta firm of Finch McCranie, LLP, in a statement.
"The Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act protects all taxpayer dollars spent not only by the State, but also by counties, municipalities, school districts, hospital authorities, MARTA and other local public bodies or entities. It's much more comprehensive than the old law and provides rewards to whistleblowers who report the fraud."
Under the new Georgia Act, the Attorney General will have the authority to investigate violations and pursue false claims cases against those who defraud the state, and can delegate that authority to district attorneys or other local officials to pursue violations that affect local government bodies. Many states have enacted their own version of the False Claims Act, the nation's major "whistleblower" law. Until now, however, Georgia's State False Medicaid Claims Act applied only to Medicaid spending.
Sullivan, a former Federal prosecutor, represents whistleblowers worldwide, and is a frequent speaker at seminars on the False Claims Act. In 2009 and 2010, he was asked by staff members of a U.S. Senate Committee to discuss how the new SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and CFTC (Commodities Futures Trading Commission) Whistleblower Programs under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act should operate.
In addition, he has also testified before the IRS about its whistleblower rules. He is also the founder of the "Whistleblower Law Symposium" in Atlanta, which brings together government officials and national practitioners to discuss developments in pursuing and defending whistleblower cases.