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Project on Government Oversight

Who Will Blink First? White House and OSC Investigate Each Other: Bloch Must Recuse Himself

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April 24, 2007

In another example of the coziness of Washington politics, it turns out the same government official who is reported to be undertaking a wide-ranging investigation into the White House is himself the subject of an investigation commissioned by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Articles published in the April 24, 2007 editions of The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times report that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, headed by Scott Bloch, will investigate whether the White House violated the Hatch Act when it held politically-oriented briefings at the General Services Administration and whether the firing of a U.S. Attorney was politically motivated.

Yet, Mr. Bloch himself is under an investigation ordered by OMB Deputy Director Clay Johnson into allegations of cronyism, whistleblower retaliation, among others. This fact appears to present a conflict of interest that compromises Bloch's ability to do the "fair, effective and thorough" job he says he will do.

"It's hard to believe that the Office of Special Counsel will be able to conduct a thorough investigation into the White House while Scott Bloch is under investigation himself," said Project On Government Oversight's director of investigations Beth Daley.  "You have to wonder if the people's interest will outweigh one person's desire to protect his own skin."

In a Weekly Standard cover story by Fred Barnes from October 2006 described pressure on the White House to get rid of Scott Bloch: "Bloch has been ostracized by the White House and was privately sent word that he should resign. Twice, he was threatened with firing if he didn't back away from protests he'd made about an IG investigation of his role at the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a small agency assigned to protect whistleblowers and the rights of federal employees."

Weekly Standard article by Fred Barnes

Letter re: Clay Johnson's role in appointing the Office of Personnel Management Inspector General to investigate Scott Bloch

 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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