Five Years Out of Work

Five years after being the first to file for whistle-blower protection under Sarbanes-Oxley, former CFO David Welch has lost the family farm and his savings, and still doesn't have a job.

How did you manage without your income for five years?

First, I got 13 weeks of unemployment. I didn’t come close to breaking even there. We learned to cut more on our spending. We used to go to nice restaurants. We don’t do it anymore. I drive a car with 270,000 miles — a 1996 Subaru.

Does your wife work?

Yes. She is a national bank examiner.

What would you do if you didn’t have her income?

I would have had to drop the process or go bankrupt. We have to pay our attorneys. They have to eat, too. At some point, if you need some more money, you can’t continue. If you are a whistle-blower and you have no money, you have to stop. The deep pockets of corporations can starve out an unemployed whistle-blower. If Sarbanes-Oxley had a provision that at any stage a whistle-blower’s employer must reinstate you economically, you would see more cases ending quicker. Then the employee would have money to pursue the case and the employer is writing a check every two weeks.

Have you looked for a new job through all this?

Yes. I have had numerous interviews that went very well. Then, when prospective employers began to check references, it was the end. The bank told them I was a whistle-blower. Prospective employers assumed I am not to be trusted. I have a black eye in the accounting and banking industry.

Is it your impression from these prospective employers that they’re hearing negative reports about you from Cardinal, or do you think they avoid you simply because you’re a whistle-blower?

A great deal of it was being a whistle-blower. If I am an employer, and both candidates have their CPA and master’s degree but one person is a whistle-blower and the second person is not a whistle-blower, I would want someone with a clean history. It’s like there is a bull’s-eye painted on you.

So, if you can’t get a job, what are you planning to do about money?

In 2005 I felt the only way to get a job was to change professions. I am currently working on my doctorate at Argosy University. I finish my course work in December. Next month I start as a full-time faculty member at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.

How did you wind up at Franklin?

I became associated with Franklin because of my whistle-blower case. I had a course with another student who turned out to be the chairman of the Department of Accounting at Franklin. He was fascinated with my experience with Sarbanes-Oxley. They were developing a forensic accounting program and ethics course. But, I needed a doctorate to get that job.

You are suddenly a whistle-blower specialist.

I taught a few courses as an adjunct at Liberty University. Also some online courses. It is rewarding to stand in front of a class and take a stand for honesty and integrity. Before you are confronted with this type of decision, you must make a choice. I can tell them I know what I am talking about. I know the cost. I have been there. When I tell the story, it hits home and has more impact. Here is someone who has paid the price but is still willing to take a stand.

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