Late last year, I interviewed United States Special Counsel Scott Bloch for a Salon.com article about the lack of protections for government whistleblowers—federal employees who his office is supposed to protect from retaliating supervisors and political appointees.
Now Bloch is making headlines again. News broke Tuesday that federal agents raided Bloch’s home and office as part of an investigation that began in 2005—he was allegedly retaliating against his own whistleblowing employees.
Tuesday’s raids came after Bloch hired a commercial computer repair company (Geeks on Call, 1-800-905-GEEK) to scrub his government computer. According to news reports, the FBI and the Office of Personnel Management were investigating whether the “Geeks on Call” episode amounted to destroyed evidence or obstruction of justice since Bloch was under investigation at the time. The OPM has been investigating a host of allegations against Bloch since more than a dozen of his own employees blew the whistle on him in 2005.
Back in November, when I asked Bloch about allegations that he had “purged” backlogged cases and retaliated against his own employees, he responded defensively: “People have the right to file complaints if they want to and lawyers can say anything they want. But it’s all fiction. All the stuff is made up … There are no whistleblowers that have complained to me. I don’t know of anyone who’s complained.”
He also wrote a lengthy response to the Salon.com article in the comments section of the online magazine:
Reckless accusations are leveled at me and my career officials at OSC, such as that we threw out 1000 cases without justifications. Why does Salon or whistleblower groups then repeat these scurrilous charges when a bi-partisan group of 13 investigators from Congress (House and Senate) came in, over three weeks, looked through our files and questioned my career staff in four areas of enforcement, and gave a clean bill of health in a letter, declaring that we did not throw those cases out without justification and said we were doing a “great job for whistleblowers?” That was in May of 2005, and still these baseless charges are trotted out every chance the press gets.
The FBI has not yet disclosed the motive or findings of this week’s raid on Bloch’s office. And Bloch has yet to respond to this latest move. On Wednesday, Republican Representative Thomas Davis III (Va.) called on Bloch to resign.
“Civil servants depend on the OSC to protect them from discrimination and improper actions by supervisors … In light of the various investigations into Mr. Bloch’s conduct, including the FBI probe revealed yesterday, it’s hard to believe he can continue to operate effectively,” said a statement released by Davis, who is the ranking republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “It’s time the OSC put this turbulent period behind it.”
In an article in today’s Washington Post, the White House refused to comment on the affair because it was a “personnel” matter.