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Workers Applaud Special Counsel's Return to Private Sector

U.S. special counsel Scott Bloch resigned, effective Jan. 5, in a letter to President Bush on Monday.
U.S. special counsel Scott Bloch resigned, effective Jan. 5, in a letter to President Bush on Monday. (By Ken Cedeno -- Bloomberg News)

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By Joe Davidson
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The reaction from leaders of organizations that work with federal employees to the announced resignation of Scott J. Bloch, the besieged U.S. special counsel, can be summed up in two words:

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Good riddance.

"Mr. Bloch destroyed the credibility of the Office of Special Counsel," said Mark Roth, general counsel of the American Federation of Government Employees. "He committed more prohibited personnel practices in the unwarranted purge of numerous OSC [Office of Special Counsel] career staffers than he deterred.

"We look forward to Mr. Bloch returning and staying in the private sector."

Bloch resigned, effective Jan. 5, in a letter to President Bush on Monday. In it, Bloch praised his own leadership, saying the agency "has made unprecedented progress in eliminating case backlogs left by previous administrations."

The office describes its mission as "protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing." Bloch alluded only obliquely to his troubles in office, telling Bush: "As you well know, doing the right thing can result in much criticism and controversy from every side."

In Bloch's case, every side includes the FBI, which raided his home and office in May. The bureau reportedly is investigating accusations that Bloch politicized his office.

"His term has been marked by continuing controversies, including claims by his own employees that he has violated the very laws the OSC is charged with enforcing," said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

In his letter, Bloch takes credit for increasing "our caseload capacity, resulting in a 400 percent increase in substantiated whistleblower disclosures and stepped up enforcement of job rights for military service members."

Yet, at least one whistleblower and an organization that works closely with them couldn't be happier to see Bloch go.

"Dedicated federal workers have been left to hang without a protector on their side," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight. "We are not sorry to see this pathetic chapter close."

Neither is Howard Floch, a surgeon who said he was fired by the Department of Veterans Affairs after he protested to Bloch's office about "what passed for medical care" at a VA hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va.

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