Monday, April 11, 2011

Scott Bloch and Hatch Act Violations & Teen Challenge

"Reality is the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of ugly facts".

Scott Bloch's Role as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel

In theory, as the independent U.S. Special Counsel, for the Office of Special Counsel, Scott J. Bloch was responsible for investigating waste, fraud and abuse, and for protecting whistleblowers. Governmental employees who come forward with reports of waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal and dangerous activities are known as whistleblowers. Whistleblowers and Mandated Reporters constitute our national alert system for when there is something seriously wrong with the governmental bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the cruel hard facts are that the usual reaction to a whistleblower by his or her management is not a correction of the problem, but rather retaliation in the form of forced transfers, demotions, revocation of security clearances, and even being fired. Whistleblowers who are retaliated against are supposed to be able to go to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to seek redress. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is supposed to act independently. The OSC can force investigations into retaliation, and also into misconduct that is reported by whistleblowers. But under Scott Bloch as Special Counsel of the OSC, the potential safe harbor at the OSC to report problems became a very unfriendly place to whistleblowers. This so-called whistleblower-protector intentionally caused hundreds of whistleblower cases to be permanently destroyed without an investigation.

The agency empowered to investigate violations of the Hatch Act was the Office of Special Counsel, an office of which Scott Bloch was appointed to head in 2004. So in this sequence of political choices by President George W. Bush, Scott Bloch would have had to investigate himself for whistleblower allegations of using the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) program for partisan political purposes. http://www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm

Scott Bloch protects himself

The Office of Special Counsel is the government office in charge of protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing the Hatch Act—a law that forbids government employees from using federal resources for political ends. The Special Counsel reports directly to the White House. But when staff expressed concerns for how Scott Bloch was handling cases Scott Bloch retaliated. Scott Bloch became under investigation himself for a variety of violations – including prohibited personnel practices and discrimination against the employees in his office. Scott Bloch purged more than 20 % of his staff – many of whom were experienced career professionals with years of work with whistleblowers. Scott Bloch also did preferential hiring of Alan Hicks in conflict with federal personnel practices.


Scott Bloch, Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel, became under investigation into whether he himself had violated the Hatch Act. Scott Bloch's use of his position as the Deputy Director of the Faith-based and Community Initiative program for political purposes would be a violation of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is the federal statute designed to limit the ways in which federal employees may participate in partisan political activities. http://www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm


Scott Bloch's misconduct while at the OSC

Scott Bloch was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Office of Special Counsel in 2001. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Director of the DOJ's Department's Office of Faith-based initiatives, he was for a decade an attorney in Lawrence, KS. In 2004, Justice Clarence Thomas swore him in as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Bloch was removed from his position at the Office of Special Counsel in October 2008, after it was discovered he had ordered his office to erase all references to workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, claiming his office lacked the authority to protect gay and lesbian workers.


During his tenure as head of the Task Force on Faith-based and Community Initiatives Scott Bloch turned a blind eye when Teen Challenge staff were accused of abuse of minors and young adults in their programs based on discrimination against them because of their religious beliefs and their sexual orientations. Teen Challenge was also accused of coercive abusive practices against young women who wished to have reproductive choice regarding their own bodies. Teen Challenge was found to do coercive practices against those of Jewish faith as well as other faiths in an effort to force them to accept Jesus Christ. Persons of other faiths were court ordered into Teen Challenge facilities under the false belief that they were treatment programs for substance abuse when in fact there was no medical or psychological treatment component to their programs and there was no licensed professional involved in supervising care in their facilities. Teens in Teen Challenge were "locked down" and monitored by alarm systems, to prevent unauthorized departures. Teen Challenge essentially kept youth in a locked up facility for a year to 18 months in order to force their religious conversion to evangelical Christian faith. While held in these facilities, there was no permitted communication or contact with the outside world not even to family members unless coercive control and oppressive monitoring by Teen Challenge staff. Teen Challenge facilities in both Texas and Florida had been exempted by the state governors - Texas Governor George W. Bush and Florida Governor "Jeb" Bush from licensing requirements and state inspection. Thus staff in Teen Challenge - many who were recruited directly from the Teen Challenge outreach to jailed prisoners - were at liberty to use the captives for any purpose they wished.

John Ellis "Jeb" Bush served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. George W. Bush served as the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 until 2000, when he resigned as governor following his election as the 43rd President of the United States. During the years of 1995 through the election of George W. Bush as President of the US - there were no meaningful protections for persons committed to lock up facilities owned and operated by Teen Challenge. Numerous allegations about child abuse surfaced but investigations were shut down without proper explanation and then the governors of Florida and Texas altered state law to exempt Teen Challenge from any state investigations and permitted them to be licensed by an accrediting agency that did no investigations at all and did not report to any governmental agency.

George W. Bush was the 43rd President of the United States (2001-2009) and the 46th Governor of Texas (1995-2000). As President of the United States George W. Bush encouraged Scott Bloch to provide money through the Charitable Choice program to certain religious organizations that supported him in his political campaigns. The growing concerns regarding the mounting evidence of criminal activity in Teen Challenge (fraud and money laundering) and also allegations of child abuse made it critical for the continuing unfettered operation of Teen Challenge that all federal investigations and whistleblower complaints against Teen Challenge be closed without prosecution and without even investigation. Teen Challenge was central to George W. Bush's war against drugs and also to his political popularity with the religious right, thus important to President George W. Bush's re-election campaign. So exempted from state licensing and regulatory oversight by Governor George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush, these centers would not even have federal investigations by the FBI, Health and Human Services, US Department of Labor, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse, SAMSHA or any other federal agency, given the ability of the OSC to stop any federal employee whistleblower complaint in front of the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Questions about the validity of Scott Bloch's own law license

But what was Scott Bloch’s own criminal record? Did Scott Bloch properly obtain a license to practice law in DC? Why did the staff of the DC court not notice criminal investigations against him and failed to flag that fact to the Committee on Admissions.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/09/despite_probe_ex_bush_official_got_licenes_blunder_dc_court_appeals.php


Scott Bloch's misconduct toward whistleblowers

Under Scott Bloch’s leadership, the historically inept Office of Special Counsel did knowingly and willfully ignore whistleblower disclosures. Legitimate whistleblowers were hardly recognized by Bloch who did not take their cases seriously until the whistleblower had already prevailed elsewhere. The OSC dismissed and closed hundreds of whistleblowing complaints without investigation. The OSC deleted hundreds of files pertaining to whistleblowing disclosures and complaints of retaliation and reprisal. When facing his critics within his own office, Scott Bloch reassigned those staffers within the OSC to field offices across the country – giving them 10 days to accept, or else they'd be fired. During Scott Bloch’s tenure there was also a rolling back of protections for federal employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. As head of the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, imposed retaliatory transfers on OSC staffers he perceived as having a “homosexual” agenda. Scott Bloch made staffing choices that selected for those who shared his discriminatory views and he also retaliated against OSC staffers who opposed his wrongdoing. He assigned interns to issue closure letters in hundreds of whistleblower complaints. OSC employees were intimidated so as to prevent them from cooperating with the Office of Professional Management governmental investigators.

Bloch closed cases without investigation and destroyed files of 56% of those cases. During the 2008, the OSC filed absolutely no corrective action petitions and no stays with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). In addition Scott Bloch continued to protect the Teen Challenge program from the mounting evidence that these unlicensed facilities were culpable in instances of child abuse, fraud against the public taxpayers, and even money laundering for illegal activities. Teen Challenge centers had received grant funding from the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives while Scott Bloch was Chief Counsel of that office. Scott Bloch did not as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel make any attempt to investigate the allegations of those whistleblowing against Teen Challenge.

Scott Bloch himself misused prosecutorial power for political purposes. For what may be viewed as political or personal reasons, while Special Counsel at the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch decided to launch into a broad investigation into the politically sensitive case of Karl Rove and the firing of US Attorneys. The Office of Special Counsel announced that it was forming an internal task force to determine whether there were violations of Rove’s office staff or other of provisions of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is a law that bars federal employees from engaging in political activities using government resources or government time. Specifically the OSC was going to look into the firing of at least one U.S. Attorney, e-mails from the Republican National Committee email accounts and the suspected use of Cabinet agency managers on political development and Republican campaign goals. But Scott Bloch himself was a part of Karl Rove’s political strategy. Scott Bloch in his role as Deputy Director of the Task Force on Faith-based and Community Initiatives was implementing that political strategy to reward those who had supported President Bush’s campaign and could be counted on to provide votes in the future.

There is no better way to prevent an investigation into your own conduct than to be in charge of the investigation yourself. What better means to stop whistleblowers who are federal employees from bringing criminal activity to the attention of the DOJ than to be the man in charge of all the whistleblower appeals from all those agencies? Then to divert attention from Hatch Act violations that you wish to hide, initiate a "sweeping broad investigation" and thus try to shut down any competing efforts of the US Congress to actually find out the truth in the allegations.

That tactic served Robert Hanssen, former FBI agent and mole for the Russians, well. Robert Hanssen eluded the efforts of both the CIA and FBI to identify him as the person passing secrets to the Russians by being himself in charge of the FBI investigation. To prevent criminal activity from being prosecuted this tactic has again surfaced in the Karl Rove investigation headed by Former Special Counsel Scott Bloch.

Investigation and Allegations Against Attorney Scott Bloch

The Office of Personnel Management Inspector General launched an investigation into Bloch after whistleblowers in his own department came forward and exposed him inappropriately steering contracts toward cronies, discriminating against two OSC employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, and clearing the agency’s extensive backlog of cases by inappropriately closing cases without investigating them at all.

In 2006, Scott Bloch abruptly canceled an award ceremony for the federal whistleblower of the year, according to several employees, when he learned that the winner, a corrections official named Leroy Smith, planned to criticize the special counsel's office at a news conference afterward.

The Investigated Investigator, Leader of High-Profile Probes Is Under Scrutiny Himself By Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post,April 30, 2007
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/29/AR2007042901256.html


Whistleblowers are united in requesting that a special investigator to look into these crimes because these are serious crimes committed at the highest levels of government and our justice system must a thorough investigation. It is important to let high governmental officials know that engaging in illegal activity cannot be done with impunity. Scott Bloch should not be safe in the knowledge that his crimes will go unquestioned.

Whistleblowers request special prosecutor in Scott Bloch case
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2011/02/an-open-letter-from-the-community-of-whistleblowers-to-attorney-general-eric-holder.php?page=1

Whistleblower groups and some former employees of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel want more than probation for Scott Bloch who is still scheduled to be sentenced. In a six-page letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson, lawyers for the whistleblower groups and former employees note allegations that Bloch discriminated against gay and lesbian employees, that he retaliated against employees who tried to draw attention to illegal actions, and that he deliberately interfered with federal investigators when he hired “Geeks on Call” to wipe out computer files. In April, Bloch pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of withholding information from Congress. The US prosecuting attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department said they would not oppose probation. One letter on behalf of whistleblowers says probation wouldn’t be strong enough. “On behalf of the victims of Mr. Bloch’s unlawful conduct, we urge the Court to award a sentence that appropriately reflects the severe, long-lasting, and broad impact of his actions,” http://legaltimes.typepad.com/files/100715-ltr-to-robinson.pdf

Now Scott J. Bloch, the disgraced former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), is scheduled to go back into court on March 30, 2011. After a long criminal investigation, 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). Scott Bloch, the former Bush administration official who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal contempt of Congress has been trying to withdraw that plea since a judge ruled he would have to spend at least one month in prison. A group of government whistleblowers wants a special prosecutor appointed to handle the case of former Bush administration official Scott Bloch.

The whistleblowers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that Bloch "gravely damaged the federal civil service" and say they are concerned about "about the appearance of impropriety" because the federal prosecutor currently handling the case supported a plea agreement before Bloch withdrew his guilty plea.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2011/02/an-open-letter-from-the-community-of-whistleblowers-to-attorney-general-eric-holder.php?page=1

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/whistleblowers_ask_holder_for_special_prosecutor_in_scott_bloch_case.php#more

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/scott_bloch_asks_for_mulligan_on_guilty_plea_since_he_didnt_know_about_jail_time.php


A more recent letter by a group of whistleblowers states requests a special prosecutor for the USA v Scott J. Bloch case.

http://whistleblowerlawyer.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/an-open-letter-from-the-community-of-whistleblowers-to-attorney-general-eric-holder/


The Judge has ruled Scott Bloch to spend time in prison

US prosecutors charging contempt of Congress charge is a rare. There are only two other reported cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the past 20 years, according to court records. Bloch, who pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of the US Congress made a deal with prosecutors, claimed that he had the expectation that he'd get probation as part of that plea agreement. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson ruled that Bloch's plea requires "a mandatory minimum sentence of one month," The Washington DC US District Court Magistrate Judge Robinson rejected arguments for a lesser sentence from Bloch's lawyers and prosecutors. Robinson set Bloch's sentencing hearing for March 30, 2011. The Judge found Scott Bloch guilty and gave him a month in jail. Bloch, represented by Winston & Strawn partner William Sullivan Jr. will be appealing the Judge’s decision. Questions still remain why the DC staff issued Scott Bloch a law license in DC even though at the time he applied for his law license he was actually under a FBI investigation. We will soon see whether Bloch’s law license will be revoked by the District of Columbia Bar Association as the result of the recent guilty plea and sentencing.

Scott Bloch’s Plea Agreement
http://legaltimes.typepad.com/files/dqu29000.pdf

Judge denies Scott Bloch’s right to appeal sentencing verdict 3-29-11
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2011/03/judge-denies-scott-blochs-request-to-appeal-sentencing-in-geeks-on-call-case.php?page=1

Judges order is stayed pending appeal in Scott Bloch case March 10, 2011
http://legaltimes.typepad.com/files/robinson_order.pdf

Bloch’s DOJ press release 4-27-10
http://legaltimes.typepad.com/files/bloch-press-release-4-27-10.pdf

Whistleblowers request special prosecutor in Scott Bloch case
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2011/02/an-open-letter-from-the-community-of-whistleblowers-to-attorney-general-eric-holder.php?page=1

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