Bad Watchdog Season 2 launches June 20.

Nick Schwellenbach

Senior Investigator


Areas of Expertise

Office of Special Counsel (OSC), whistleblower issues, intelligence community, FOIA

Nick Schwellenbach is a senior investigator at POGO. He has previously been the communications director at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the main federal agency in charge of protecting whistleblowers. He also served on a three-person government team that evaluated whistleblower allegations of abuses of authority, violations of journalistic independence, and other claims involving the first Senate-confirmed CEO at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. He was POGO’s director of investigations from 2010 to 2012 and from 2017 to 2019, and was an investigator from 2004 through 2008. He also was a senior fiscal policy analyst with the Center for Effective Government, a staff writer with the Center for Public Integrity, and a reporter-researcher for Harvard University’s Nieman Watchdog. Nick received his B.A. in history from the University of Texas-Austin and his M.A. in journalism from American University. His journalism has been published in the Washington Post, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, the New Republic, the Intercept, Politico, the Daily Beast, Yahoo News, Mother Jones, Texas Observer, and other media outlets. His investigative findings have been widely covered by major media outlets and are routinely cited by members of Congress conducting oversight.

Nick’s work for POGO on excessive secrecy covering up serious misconduct by Justice Department attorneys won the Society of Professional Journalists-DC Chapter’s Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award in 2015, its highest prize. He has managed investigations that have won awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists and Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He was the editor of a book by POGO and two other organizations — Caught Between Conscience and Career, a guide for federal employees — that won the Campaigns & Elections’ Reed Award for Best Civic Education Resource. His reporting on sexual harassment and misconduct and mass deletions of government text messages inside the Department of Homeland Security prompted internal reforms and federal probes. His investigations into overseas labor and sex trafficking by U.S. military contractors and subcontractors led to a new executive order. He has led and managed investigations into dangerous conditions inside immigrant detention centers, bribery and corruption scandals involving members of Congress, the revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), poorly secured nuclear materials, whistleblower retaliation across numerous agencies, mismanagement of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 program, faulty missile defense systems, and many other topics.

Latest Work