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When I was a kid growing up in Vermont, Lincoln’s birthday was its own holiday, a time to remember and honor “Honest Abe.” I didn’t learn about the False Claims Act, which was signed into law by Lincoln, until many, many years later. Turns out his legacy of honesty lives on in that law—a law which at its core seeks to keep those who do business with the government honest. A simple idea really. In his day, if you were selling boots or horses to the Army they better not be defective or overpriced. Not only did such behavior cost the government money, it could put lives at risk.
Fast forward 150 years and the False Claims Act is as important as ever. As government has grown and evolved, so too have the ways in which it can be defrauded by unscrupulous companies, contractors, and individuals. At stake are millions or billions of dollars in all sectors of our economy, from defense and homeland security, to banking and finance, to health care, to transportation and infrastructure. Also at stake are people’s lives: the soldier whose weapon is defective, the child whose drinking water comes from contaminated pipes, the sick patient whose prescription drugs are too expensive, the list could go on and on.
So next time you have a penny in your hand, take a good look at that picture of Lincoln, remember the lofty and enduring goals of the False Claims Act, and pledge to do your part to form a more perfect union.