The head of a powerful but obscure federal agency is in trouble again. FBI agents with warrants raided the home and office of Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel, on May 6. It is not clear exactly what they were looking for in the records and computers that they seized.
The U.S. Office of the Special Counsel ( OSC ) is charged with the responsibility of defending 1.7 million federal employees from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. Bloch was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate to a fixed five-year term that began on January 5, 2004.
Just weeks after being sworn in, Bloch began to take a series of actions that riled federal employees for many reasons, including some that led to charges that the social conservative was undertaking an anti-gay crusade within the agency.
In February 2004, Federal GLOBE, the umbrella group of LGBT federal employee organizations, charged that the OSC had 'removed references to sexual orientation from its basic brochure, its complaint form, a two-page flyer entitled 'Your Rights as a Federal Employee,' and a set of training slides.' It called the actions 'political pandering to the conservative right' that send 'a chilling message' to gay federal employees.
Both the White House and members of Congress affirmed protection of gay federal employees that have been standard practice since 1978, and Bloch appeared to back down.
Then, at a congressional hearing in 2005, Bloch said he did not believe his office had the authority to protect employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Again, he was rebuffed by members of Congress. Read more story below....
This newest incident involved more than a dozen FBI agents with a very broad search warrant issued by a grand jury. The raid is unusual, if not unprecedented for a federal agency.
Among the controversy and speculation are broad charges that Bloch interfered with investigations for political purposes. One was his call for disciplinary action against Lurita Doan, who the White House pressured to resign recently as head of the General Services Administration.
Others involved then White House aides Karl Rove and Condoleezza Rice, and former Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
The nonprofit Project on Government Oversight has obtained and released a 13-page memo written by Bloch that illustrates possible political bias and mismanagement. It has identified 11 areas that may be under investigation.
Bloch is in a unique position with a fixed five-year term and can only be removed for cause, a provision meant to give the office political independence. He has acknowledged that the White House has asked him to resign on at least two occasions, according to the Washington Post.