Washington, DC — In a strongly worded letter sent to President George W. Bush today by counsel for a coalition of current and former employees of the United States Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”) and whistleblower protection groups, President Bush is urged to terminate Special Counsel Scott Bloch in the wake of Bloch’s admission that he directed the deletion of computer files at the Agency.
The coalition charges that Bloch, who has been under an Office of Personnel Management Inspector General (OPM IG) investigation since 2005 for his alleged retaliation against internal whistleblowers, his politicization of Hatch Act enforcement, his implementation of illegal gag orders, and his wholesale dismissal of over 1000 whistleblower disclosures without investigation, cannot continue in his role as head of OSC in light of revelations in today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Journal, in the midst of the OPM IG’s investigation into his misconduct at OSC, Bloch hired a private computer-help company, Geeks on Call, to unlawfully delete Agency computer files. According to the Journal, Bloch bypassed normal agency IT personnel, and hired Geeks of Call to scrub his computer’s hard disk and the laptops used by his two top political deputies. Directing the use of “seven-level” wipe procedure, Bloch directed the destruction of crucial evidence making it virtually impossible for forensics experts to restore the data later.
The coalition’s lawyer, Debra S. Katz, charged in her letter to President Bush, that Mr. Bloch has continually obstructed the OPM IG investigation, made false statements to Congress, and engaged in other improper and illegal activity, all of it directly antithetical to the mission of OSC, which is to protect the merit-based civil service, and investigate and prosecute agency officials who retaliate against whistleblowers. Katz stated, “Today’s Wall Street Journal contains a report confirming what my clients and other sources within OSC have been saying since the OPM IG investigation began: that Mr. Bloch and his political henchmen have continuously obstructed the investigators’ efforts to get at the truth. … Tellingly, the article quotes Mr. Bloch as defending himself with a claim that the OPM IG has a ‘conflict of interest’ in pursuing its investigation of Mr. Bloch while his office supposedly is conducting an investigation of the White House. This claim by Mr. Bloch confirms what we have repeatedly pointed out in correspondence with the White House Counsel, with Clay Johnson, Deputy Director of OMB, and with members of Congress–that Mr. Bloch launched his supposed investigation of the White House to insulate himself from the OPM IG investigation.”
Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight commented, “Stop the madness! Under Bloch’s leadership, OSC has been utterly neutered. Bloch’s tenure epitomizes everything people distrust in government: cronyism, incompetence, retaliatory conduct and a politicized agenda. It will be interesting to find out what was going on in December that compelled Bloch to take this bizarre action.”
Adam Miles, Legislative Representative, at the Government Accountability Project added, “Through all this, it’s the whistleblowers who have been left behind. It’s time for Scott Bloch to move on, so that federal employees can get help.”
“If Scott Bloch had any decency, he would resign,” concluded PEER. Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is critical that federal whistleblowers have an official advocate who is credible and free from hidden agendas.”