Sunday, June 5, 2011

Calling all victims: former head of OSC Scott Bloch to be sentenced on 1/25/2011

For decades, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) exhibited about as much prowess as a backwards-facing rider going for a spin on a three-legged horse. Until recent appointment of the new Special Counsel, the rider had been headless to boot.

Scott J. Bloch, the disgraced former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), is finally set to be sentenced for some of his criminal activities on January 25, 2011. On April 27, 2010 Bloch pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress. Based on his actions, Bloch could have been charged with obstruction of justice, evidence tampering, destruction of official files, impeding an official federal investigation, civil right violations, Hatch act violations and violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). Instead, he was charged only with criminal contempt (a misdemeanor).

Under his leadership, the historically inept OSC reached new lows. In addition to his bigotry, Bloch became infamous for being the absolute antithesis of what the OSC was supposed to represent. He was accused of the following:
  • Knowingly and willfully ignoring whistleblower disclosures;
  • Dismissing and closing hundreds of whistleblowing complaints without investigation;
  • Deleting hundreds of files pertaining to whistleblowing disclosures and complaints of retaliation and reprisal;
  • Rolling back protections for federal employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation;
  • Staffing key OSC positions with cronies who shared his discriminatory views;
  • Engaging in retaliatory activities against OSC staffers who opposed his wrongdoing;
  • Assigning interns to issue closure letters in hundreds of whistleblower complaints without investigation;
  • Intimidating OSC employees from cooperating with government investigators;
  • Misusing prosecutorial power for political purposes;
  • Reducing the backlog of cases pending at the OSC by 56% percent by closing cases without an investigation and destroying electronic files;
  • During the fiscal year of 2008, the OSC filed 0 corrective action petitions with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
  • During the fiscal year of 2008, the OSC obtained 0 stays from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
  • Bloch reassigned his perceived critics within the OSC to field offices across the country – giving them 10 days to accept, or else they'd be fired;
  • Bloch imposed retaliatory transfers upon OSC staffers he perceived as having a "homosexual agenda";
  • The OSC under Bloch rarely recognized legitimate whistleblowers, typically only when the whistleblower has already prevailed elsewhere.
Bloch’s defense attorney, William Sullivan Jr., a Winston & Strawn partner in Washington, DC had the audacity to state in court papers that Bloch has “served with distinction” as the head of the OSC. "Glad this matter is behind us, and Mr. Bloch is looking forward to getting on with his life," Sullivan said, as he walked with Scott Bloch to the probation office.

Bloch’s victims don’t have the same luxury of moving on with their lives, as they have been continually oppressed with no recourse throughout the OSC’s existence. Many of them have lost their jobs and life savings, defending themselves from retaliatory investigations, malicious prosecutions, baseless transfers, unwarranted demotions, suspensions, unjustified terminations and other reprisals by their respective government agencies. At the same time, the OSC - the very agency purportedly created to protect whistleblowers - was historically involved in tutoring agency managers on how to get rid of inconvenient, outspoken employees.

Office of Special Counsel (OSC) – the dark legacy

Office of Special Counsel's War On Whistleblowers

United States Office of Special Counsel

Under Bloch’s leadership, employment rights attorneys were advising their clients to submit their complaints to the OSC simply “to obtain the pro forma closure letter” as it was guaranteed that the OSC would not investigate or take action in any complaints. The only time the OSC jumped on board is when the matter at issue was already investigated by another entity and received attention from the media.

After leaving whistleblowers high and dry throughout his tenure at the OSC, now Bloch would like his victims to pitch in and help pay his criminal defense bills. Visit the website aptly entitled “Scott Bloch Legal Defense Trust,” encouraging donations from the American public to help Bloch with his legal defense fees.

Scott Bloch Legal Defense Trust

The website describes Bloch as a “trustworthy”, “honorable” “man of integrity who is suffering as the result of standing up to various special interests groups and powerful government authorities.” Sounds familiar? It seems that Mr. Bloch now fancies himself to be a whistleblower, forced to “rely on the generosity of citizens to support and defend him in this very difficult time.”

The website continues to explain that “Experienced criminal law attorneys are necessary to deal with the crushing legal burden of government investigators, prosecutors, Congressional investigators, and inspectors general. The cumulative effect of all of this is far too expensive for an ordinary citizen like Mr. Bloch to handle financially on his own.” Of course, all whistleblowers understand what a crushing burden that is – especially that neither Mr. Bloch, nor the OSC helped any of them, while the OSC destroyed their complaints or callously closed them without an investigation.

Scott Bloch's donation website exclaims, “Every amount helps. Whether it's ten dollars or five hundred (or more), whatever you can afford sends a positive message of your support for Scott Bloch and the importance of doing what is right despite the cost.” Curiously, this website fails to mention that Scot Bloch and his legal associates have recently obtained settlement of a national consumer class action against General Motors (in re Dex Cool) that was valued at $300 million.

That’s right – outrageously, even after his guilty plea and conviction, Bloch is working as an employment attorney at the Tarone & McLaughlin LLP law firm in our nation’s capitol. In an ironic twist, the areas of his specialty are: “Employment discrimination, federal rights, personnel law, whistleblower retaliation, public policy retaliation.”


Tarone & McLaughlin LLP - web page of Scott Bloch

The law firm’s website boasts that Bloch “attained notoriety as the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel”. That’s definitely true. A guilty plea by a former public official in a criminal case tends to garner that kind of notoriety.

Adding insult to injury, Bloch professes to believe “in aggressive pursuit of justice on behalf of those whose rights have been denied, economically, personally, and constitutionally.

How did Scott Bloch manage to get a license to practice law? Curiously enough, the staff of a DC court allegedly “didn't notice” criminal investigations against him and failed to flag that fact to the Committee on Admissions. No one at that court seems to be concerned about their blunder, which they reportedly plan to use “as a teaching exercise."

Despite Criminal Probe, Ex-Bushie Got Law License After Blunder By DC Court

Bloch’s criminal attorney, William Sullivan of Winston & Strawn in Washington, said, "Now it is time for Scott to move forward and to pursue the best interests of his private clients with the same vigor he displayed in promoting the welfare of the citizens of the United States." Bloch exclaims, “My whole career has been dedicated to bringing expeditious justice to those who have been denied justice." This is especially ironic, since justice to whistleblowers Bloch was appointed to protect was denied by Bloch himself and through his criminal doings.

If you have been victimized by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) under Scott Bloch, now is your chance to take action. Scott Bloch's sentencing is scheduled for January 25, 2011 at 10:30 in Courtroom 4 of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. You can file a victim impact statement, outlining the way the OSC’s failure to investigate or to act upon your complaint of whistleblower retaliation has affected your career and life. Send this statement to:

Clerk of the Court
Federal District Court
333 Constitution Avenue, NW,
Washington DC 20001

Make sure to note that your statement pertains to the Criminal Case No: 10-MJ-0215-01(DAR).
Serve a copy of your victim impact statement on Bloch's attorney and the US Attorney at the following addresses:

Representative for Scott Bloch
William Sullivan
Winston and Strawn
1700 K St, NW
Washington, DC 20006

US DOJ
Glenn Leon
Special Proceeding Section
555 Fourth St, NW
Washington, DC 20530

In the meantime, Bloch’s attorneys and the Department of Justice prosecutors (who should be representing the interests of American taxpayers) are hard at work, attempting to convince Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson that Bloch should not serve any prison time for lying to Congress. Both sides assert that Bloch should receive probation without any imprisonment. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our courts. While the Department of Justice relentlessly pursues, prosecutes and imprisons inconvenient whistleblowers, high-ranking bureaucrats who violate their rights are usually coddled by the system. The crooked wheel of justice crushes those at the lower levels of the government and pushes up criminals in high places.

Judge mulls whether contempt of Congress deserves prison

Judge Robinson ordered both sides to submit arguments as to the minimum punishment required in such a case. The real question is, why shouldn’t the Judge start by considering the maximum (not minimum) sentence Bloch should serve for the immense damage he caused? This bad egg is being cooked over-easy, with obvious disregard for hundreds of whistleblowers whose careers have been destroyed due to the OSC’s failure to investigate their complaints.

Watchdog groups and ethics advocates are appalled at the lackadaisical approach towards Bloch’s crimes. The proposed sentence of probation is not commensurate with the scope and longstanding impact of Bloch’s abuse of office and serious violations against federal whistleblowers. We can only hope that the voices of whistleblowers will be heard during the sentencing hearing on January 25, 2011. The hope is alive, but the chances of justice seem slim.