White House Ousts Special Counsel Bloch: Federal Workers Are Vindicated
After months of intrigue-- including hidden thumb drives, computer files destroyed, staff retaliations and firings and misfires directed at his critics -- Scott Bloch was finally forced to resign today in a meeting with White House officials, according to several sources. He has been placed on administrative leave, effective today, until December 12, 2008, when his term ends.
Bloch had announced his own plans to leave in January in a letter he released on Monday. But this morning, federal agents from the FBI and/or Federal Protective Service were stationed at the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) while Special Counsel Scott Bloch was called to the White House meeting. Meanwhile, OSC employees were informed of an all hands meeting at four o’clock today. All requests for comments from the OSC are being referred to the White House. The President has designated William E. Reukauf, long-time OSC career civil servant currently serving as Associate Special Counsel, to be Acting Special Counsel.
According to Debra S. Katz, an attorney for former and current OSC employees and non-profit whistleblower groups, including the Project On Government Oversight, “after bringing Scott Bloch’s serious misconduct to the attention of the White House for almost four years, we are pleased that the Bush Administration has finally acted to remove this rogue Presidential appointee. Unfortunately, President Bush’s action comes far too late for OSC employees and other federal workers who have been denied a safe outlet to report fraud, waste and abuse throughout his disgraceful tenure. Bloch has allowed federal workers to be subjected to retaliation with impunity and has done great damage to the agency’s mission and the public that it was established to protect.”
In July, 2008, POGO wrote to Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, directly calling for the firing of Bloch.
Danielle Brian, Executive Director, POGO, said today, “This is a victory for federal workers. It would have been obscene for this man to be able to walk away under his own terms. He has left the agency in shambles. It will take a lot of work to repair the damage Bloch caused. It will also be necessary to fix the systemic flaws which have long hampered its effectiveness.” POGO has been investigating Bloch’s mismanagement of OSC since 2004.
POGO will be releasing a report soon that will point to systemic flaws that will remain at the OSC even after Bloch’s departure, as well as recommending reforms.
Bloch is currently under federal investigation for possible obstruction of justice for destroying computer files sought by investigators in a prior probe into whether he retaliated illegally against whistleblowers in his office.
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.