Scott Bloch, Office of Special Council, testifies at a Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee hearing on oversight of government management. (James J. Lee / Staff)
To hear former Special Counsel Scott Bloch tell it, he was a lone fighter standing up to corruption in the Bush administration. And when he refused to back down, Bloch claims, he was unfairly targeted and destroyed by a vast conspiracy involving factions ranging from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee to the whistleblower group Project on Government Oversight.
http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/04/29/Bloch.pdf">In a lawsuit filed April 25, Bloch and his wife, Catherine, said the White House in 2006 offered him a federal judgeship if he would resign and drop a Hatch Act investigation into Rove's alleged misuse of Air Force One. After Bloch rejected that offer, the Bush administration launched a coordinated effort to discredit Bloch, turn his staff's loyalties against him, and trump up criminal charges to force him out of his job.
Bloch alleges "a scheme by a United States Congressman and his staff [former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who is also a defendant] to misue [sic] their power to protect a valued contributor and further the aims of the Republican National Committee … and Defendant Karl Rove and President George W. Bush, and to ultimately threaten, impede and destroy [his] powers as Special Counsel."
The lawsuit alleges multiple violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which is usually used against the Mafia and other organized crime organizations. Bloch also said he and his family were harassed when his home was searched by FBI agents, and their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion were violated when religious materials were destroyed in the search.
Bloch also stands by his 2004 decision to remove discrimination based on sexual orientation from the list of prohibited personnel actions, and strike references to sexual orientation from the OSC website and printed materials. He said the White House threatened to fire him if he did not reverse his decision.
Bloch in 2005 ordered 12 employees to relocate outside of Washington or be fired as part of an agency reorganization. Those employees filed a complaint alleging he was retaliating against them because he believed they had complained to the media and a labor union about his sexual orientation decision. In the suit, Bloch said the reorganization drew complaints from "disgruntled employees."
Those complaints would ultimately lead to Bloch's downfall. The Office of Personnel Management's inspector general — Patrick McFarland, also named in the suit — began investigating the retaliation complaints. Bloch was accused of hiring an outside computer repair firm, Geeks on Call, to wipe his government laptop clean and destroy incriminating files. Bloch said his computer had a virus. Bloch in 2010 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contempt of Congress, and in March was sentenced to one month in prison.
Bloch accused McFarland of illegally expanding the scope of the retaliation investigation into a criminal matter involving the FBI to cover up McFarland's own mishandling of the investigation.
Bloch also said the White House tried to stymie his investigations into former General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan, whom he is also suing; Davis; and lax aircraft oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry. He accuses aviation industry lobbyists and the RNC of working together to disrupt his investigations of Doan and Davis, who he said illegally diverted campaign and contracting funds to Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates.
POGO — yet another defendant in the case — said in 2008 that Bloch launched the Rove and Doan investigations to shield himself against the White House's own investigations against him.
The suit is filed in Fairfax Circuit Court in Virginia. Bloch is demanding $202 million in punitive and other damages. The website Courthouse News Service first reported on the lawsuit and posted it online.
Bloch also said the White House coordinated a string of leaks and defamatory statements — both large and small — to several newspapers, including Federal Times, to embarrass him and drive him out. The lawsuit includes the web address of a 2006 Washington Post story about the Office of Special Counsel's dress code, which advised women against wearing tight pants and suggested, "before choosing a skirt to wear, sit down in it facing a mirror." The Post noted that was ironic, since OSC is supposed to fight sex discrimination in the federal workplace.
"Stupid, but happened," Bloch noted.