FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2023
Radim Dragomaca, [email protected]
Response from Whistleblower Aid CEO Libby Liu to Harvard Kennedy School Statement
The Harvard Kennedy School’s media statement in response to Dr. Joan Donovan’s whistleblower disclosure is a missed opportunity for transparency related to fundraising and donor influence. Whereas Dr. Donovan provides nearly 250 pages of evidence in support of her claims, including voluminous correspondence with HKS staff, the university’s terse and non-specific denial is inadequate and bereft of any substantiation whatsoever. It underlines the need for a thorough and independent investigation.
HKS reiterates that the absence of a faculty member overseeing Dr. Donovan’s work was the reason for the winding down of her project, without explaining why this was NOT a problem prior to her announcing that she was in possession of the Facebook Files and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $500 million donation. Her disclosure [Paragraph 114 (pdf pg. 111)] makes clear that HKS leadership waived the requirement for Dr. Donovan allowing her to be named the principal investigator on grants and gifts. Further, Dr. Donovan was never made aware that there was a search for a faculty member to take over her project, which she founded and named before she was even hired in December 2018. Nor was she aware of any such search or “departing tenured faculty member” that was previously leading an initiative at HKS on media manipulation prior to December 2018.
HKS makes the absurd claim that Dr. Donovan was not “fired” because she was offered an opportunity to teach part-time as an adjunct lecturer instead of receiving a full-time salary leading her own research project and as Research Director for the Shorenstein Center. This is a dodge to avoid real accountability for the millions of dollars in funding HKS took from her program when they terminated her position. The disclosure [Exhibit 2 (pdf pg. 55)] plainly shows HKS staff confirming she is being “laid off.” One doesn’t have to be an academic to understand that when you are removed from a Research Director position overseeing a large staff and a budget of millions, you have been fired. Being offered the opportunity to teach a class part-time does not negate that fact.
Whistleblower Aid is a non-profit legal organization in Washington, D.C. supporting individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law breaking. It provides assistance to individuals in the United States and abroad seeking to disclose illegal conduct, including misconduct relating to government officials, securities fraud, sexual violence, and violations of tax, labor or environmental laws. In recent years Whistleblower Aid lawyers have represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and the intelligence community whistleblower whose disclosures led to the first impeachment of President Trump.