FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Danielle Brian or Beverley Lumpkin, 202-347-1122

 

POGO REVEALS INTERNAL OSC DOCUMENT

SHOWS BLOCH MISUSED OWN TASK FORCE

 

Washington, D.C. – An extraordinary document obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) from inside the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) reveals that Special  Counsel Scott Bloch created a special task force to investigate sensitive and high-profile matters and then ignored virtually every recommendation made by it.  The document lends support to POGO’s theory that Bloch used the task force to launch an investigation of the White House, issuing demands for documents termed by his own task force as “overly broad,” to create the appearance of a conflict of interest with an ongoing investigation into allegations that Bloch himself had engaged in misconduct.

 

“With this deeply troubling new evidence of Bloch’s misuse of his office POGO now believes the President has more than ample cause to fire Bloch immediately, said Danielle Brian ,” Executive Director, POGO.

 

The 13-page memo from the task force, dated January 18, 2008, is entitled “Summary of Task Force Activities and Recommendations.” (http://pogoarchives.org/m/wi/osc-tf-summary-20080118.pdf)  It reveals that Bloch countermanded virtually every recommendation made by his own team; if they recommended pursuing a matter, he ordered them to stop, and if they advised that they lacked either jurisdiction or evidence to proceed, he ordered them to go forward.

 

Here are some examples gleaned from the memo:

 

·        Regarding the White House Office of Political Affairs (OPA), the task force examined allegations that 25 federal agencies had received political briefings that might have violated the Hatch Act, which bans the use of government resources to promote or oppose a political party or candidate.  But as the investigators proceeded, sending requests for documents to the agencies and the White House, they received a stream of new directions from Bloch that kept expanding the focus of the inquiry.  In the memo, the task force finally exclaimed:  “{TF expressed concerns that this request is too broad and may exceed OSC’s jurisdiction} (Emphasis in original.)  When the task force recommended ways to narrow the scope of the investigation, they were denied.  When they drafted a subpoena to the Republican National Committee, Bloch ordered it be expanded to include ten new topics.

 

·        At the time of the firings of U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department, former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias filed a complaint with OSC charging a Hatch Act violation.  Bloch ordered the task force to broaden their probe to include all nine of the fired U.S. Attorneys.  Amid Justice Department requests that OSC suspend its inquiry, and task force protestations that there was no evidence to support the theory of a Hatch Act violation – which only applies to Executive branch influence, and Iglesias had complained of interference from Members of Congress – Bloch refused to suspend his inquiry.

 

·        After Justice Department officials testified before Congress about having considered job applicants’ political affiliations in hiring and promotion decisions, the task force recommended that “this case be opened immediately and that the [task force] investigate whether individuals at DOJ committeed any PPPs [prohibited personnel practices] when they took political affiliation into consideration when hiring and making other personnel decisions.”  Prohibited personnel practices are within the clear jurisdiction of the OSC; nevertheless, Bloch nine days later directed the task force “not to open or investigate allegations concerning DOJ political hiring practices.”  Four months later, the task force was permitted to open a file, but “no other activity or devotion of resources authorized at this time.”

 

In additional cases involving the possibility of politically-tainted prosecutions, a voter fraud case, and the concoction of a new case against former GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, and others, Bloch mostly contradicts the advice of his hand-picked task force.

 

POGO, along with the Government Accountability Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, has been calling for Bloch’s removal from office for more than three years. (http://www.pogo.org/p/government/OSCcompendium.html)  In fact, the current federal investigation of Bloch’s alleged misconduct, which reached a significant new phase yesterday with the execution of search warrants at both his home and office, was launched in response to POGO’s and the other groups’ complaint. 

 

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Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight is an independent nonprofit which investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.

 

 

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