Office of Special Counsel Whistleblowers Call for Final Determination in Investigation into Former Special Counsel Scott Bloch's Alleged Misconduct

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Whistleblower protection groups and Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP, counsel for former Office of Special Counsel (OSC) employees, announce submission of letter requesting that Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency issue findings in six-year old inquiry into Bloch's conduct.

The Supreme Court has long recognized that, 'Justice delayed is justice denied.'

Today, counsel for the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the nation’s preeminent whistleblower protection organizations, and former OSC employees (collectively referred to as “Complainants”) sent a letter to Phyllis K. Fong, Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), urging the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General (OPM IG) to issue a final determination into its investigation of former Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch. Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP, counsel for the OSC employees, announced the submission of the letter.

According to the letter to Ms. Fong, in March 2005, Complainants filed a charge against the Office of Special Counsel alleging various acts of retaliation and misconduct by former Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch, at that time the head of OSC. See Complaint of Prohibited Personnel Practices against Special Counsel Scott Bloch, IC #465 (Mar. 3, 2005). Because of the obvious conflict in having OSC investigate a charge against itself, the matter was referred to the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) in June 2005, which then assigned OPM IG to perform an investigation into the matter. Patricia A. Marshall, Special Counsel to the Inspector General, informed counsel for the complainants of this assignment by letter dated October 17, 2005. This complaint is now under the purview of CIGIE, the successor to PCIE.

This complaint was and is a matter of significant public concern, given its allegations of whistleblower retaliation by the agency charged with safeguarding the federal workforce against whistleblower retaliation; politically and religiously-based hiring for career positions; discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; refusal to enforce federal merit systems protection laws; dismissal of hundreds of OSC charges without investigation; placing unlawful “gag orders” on federal government staff; and deliberate interference with a federal IG investigation. See IC #465. Ultimately, Mr. Bloch’s misconduct in office was so significant that he was removed by former President George W. Bush in October 2008. See Carol D. Leonnig, Bush special counsel Bloch to plead guilty to withholding evidence from probe, Washington Post (Apr. 23, 2010), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/22/AR2010042205724.html.

According to the letter to Ms. Fong and the subsequent charges filed against Mr. Bloch, in 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the District of Columbia opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Bloch’s misconduct, based on allegations that he willfully impeded the investigation into the Complainants’ claims. See United States v. Bloch, 1:10-mj-00215-DAR (D.D.C. Apr. 22, 2010). In April 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office then formally charged Mr. Bloch with violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192, misdemeanor Contempt of Congress. See id. Since that time, the matter has been stalled in court, with Mr. Bloch initially submitting a guilty plea but then, after many months of legal wrangling, being permitted to withdraw that guilty plea. See Del Quentin Wilber, Judge allows former special counsel to withdraw guilty plea, Washington Post (Aug. 3, 2011), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/judge-allows-former-special-counsel-to-withdraw-guilty-plea/2011/08/03/gIQAbOsRsI_blog.html.

According to Debra S. Katz, counsel for Complainants, “The OPM IG concluded its investigation into our clients’ complaint more than three years ago, but OPM has unfortunately not released the results of this investigation because of the pendency of criminal charges against Mr. Bloch. In the interim, both our clients, who have waited more than six and a half years for redress for the career-derailing retaliation against them caused by Mr. Bloch, and the public continue to suffer.”

Avi Kumin, co-counsel in this matter, adds, “A final report of investigation is urgent not only for our clients, but also for the millions of federal employees for whom OSC is the official protector against reprisal for raising issues of serious public concern. Until the results of OPM IG’s investigation are released, federal employees cannot move beyond the extremely damaging conduct of Mr. Bloch’s tenure, and the public is harmed by being deprived of critical information about what the government has done to address these serious concerns.”

Katz adds, “The Supreme Court has long recognized that, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ Six and a half years is far too long to wait for the results of this important investigation, especially considering that the investigation actually concluded nearly four years ago. We respectfully request that CIGIE compel OPM IG to promptly release the results of its investigation.”

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Debra S. Katz

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