Feds raid Special Counsel's office

Federal agents raided the Washington office of Scott Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, May 6 and seized computer files and documents as part of an ongoing investigation into possible obstruction of justice.

Bloch has been under investigation by the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general for nearly three years because of allegations that he retaliated against OSC employees who complained about office policies, abused his hiring authority, dismissed whistleblower cases without sufficient investigation and politicized his office.

In November 2007, investigators for OPM's IG discovered that Bloch had hired a commercial computer services company to erase all of the files on his government-issued PC and two laptop PCs in the office. The Justice Department subsequently joined the case and began looking into whether Bloch’s actions were part of a coverup.

According to news reports, a half-dozen FBI agents swept into the OSC's Washington offices yesterday morning, collecting documents, seizing computers and files, and serving grand jury subpoenas to OSC employees. They also questioned Bloch.

“We are cooperating with law enforcement officials, but we do not yet understand what this is about. We are continuing to perform our independent investigative mission,” an OSC spokesman said. 

Bloch has denied any wrongdoing in the case. In a statement provided to Federal Computer Week in November, he said files erased from the internal drive of his laptop “did not include my official work files and e-mail, which are stored on the office network hard drives.” He added that  “none of this is relevant” to the investigation by OPM's IG.

Last year, Bloch faced off with Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, about Bloch's alleged use of government equipment to send disparaging messages about Davis and others from his personal e-mail account.

One message accused Davis of acting like the defense counsel for Lurita Doan, former head of the General Services Administration, in Bloch's investigation of Doan for possible Hatch Act violations. Doan resigned from her position last week at the request of the Bush administration.

Davis and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, sent a letter to Bloch, asking him to produce copies of messages he sent using the account. He also sent a letter to AOL Chairman Randy Falco, directing AOL to preserve all e-mail messages from Bloch’s account.

Bloch, who was appointed OSC head in 2003 by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, can only be removed for neglect, inefficiency or malfeasance in office.

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