Scott Bloch, the former Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel will be spending 1 month in Federal prison. Washington DC District Federal Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson sentenced Scott Bloch to prison time in spite of pleas of his defense counsel that he should just walk away after deliberately wiping his computers and erasing evidence when under a US Congressional investigation. Scott Bloch has many things to explain regarding his tenure as the chief enforcement officer of the OSC for whistleblower protection and for prosecution of Hatch Act violations.
None of these is as perplexing as Scott Bloch’s special treatment of the disgraced school headmaster Alan Hicks. After Alan Hicks was dismissed in disgrace from St. Gregory's, Scott Bloch hired his son’s former Catholic Boarding school headmaster as an expert consultant on a no-bid contract. Scott Bloch did this in apparent violation of civil service rules, according to documents released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Alan Hicks had served previously a short stint as a teacher of philosophy at the University of Kansas, but that did not really quality him as an expert for the OSC.
But why would Scott Bloch preferentially protect the disgraced headmaster of St. Gregory’s Academy? Alan Hicks had left St. Gregory’s Academy in the wake of allegations concerning priests of the Society of St. John sexually preying on young students at St. Gregory's Academy. St. Gregory's, which is owned and operated by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, is a private Catholic high school for boys located in Moscow, Pennsylvania. Scott Bloch’s son had attended this all boys’ Catholic boarding school. Bloch gave the ex-headmaster a one-year appointment at the Office of Special Counsel as an expert consultant. Alan Hicks, former headmaster at St. Gregory’s was supposed to “advise on curriculum of future Office of Special Counsel training program.” Alan Hicks under this appointment would be entitled to receive as much as $111,966.40, but the only work produced for this generous appointment was only a single four page memo dated September 16, 2004. A FOIA request by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) only obtained a redacted version with only a blank piece of paper for this 4 page memo.
Alan Hicks was recruited by Fr. Arnaud Devillers to be headmaster at St. Gregory's. Hicks had previously studied philosophy and logic at the University of Kansas. At University of Kansas Hicks was in the Great Books program under Dr. John Senior, for whom he worked as an assistant instructor.
The St. Gregory’s Catholic traditionalist educational program was strongly influenced by Hilaire Belloc, a militant Catholic journalist, historian, and poet. Belloc was deemed by some to be anti-Semitic and not concerned to conceal his views. Belloc also considered Islam to pose a dangerous threat. Belloc's Roman Catholicism was uncompromising and he was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. Tuition and board for each student at St. Gregory’s Catholic boarding school for boys totaled $6,800 per year.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond, President of the College of St. Justin Martyr, in a June 7, 2002 letter warned the parents of children attending St. Gregory’s and stated clearly “…the SSJ priests had the opportunity to harm boys at St. Gregory's because of a pre-existing environment suited to their perverse purposes. I say this because parents, graduates, and other concerned parties who have read the above-mentioned letter have contacted me to share their experiences with me, and their stories indicate that the environment at St. Gregory's is not a healthy one for boys. That environment was largely the creation of Mr. Alan Hicks, the Headmaster of St. Gregory's Academy. In short, the bright promise of St. Gregory's has been betrayed by the very one whose task it has been to fulfill that promise.”
It is clear from Dr. Jeffrey Bond’s letter of warning to parents that he believed that Mr. Hicks acted in a callous and uncaring manner toward the boys who had been sexually abused. He states further that “Mr. Hicks' attitude reveals a remarkable ignorance concerning the ways in which homosexual predators "groom" their victims by degrees.”
In one instance of inappropriate homosexual contact that parents recounted to Dr. Bond, Dr. Bond concluded that ….”neither Mr. Hicks nor Mr. Clark expressed a single word of concern for the welfare of this young man. They did express concern for their own jobs, however, by joking about how they would soon be "eating out of garbage cans." They also denied responsibility by stating that it was unrealistic for them to have to patrol the hallways of St. Gregory's at night.”
Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond after delineating numerous instances of sexual situations that occurred at St. Gregory’s with several different boys concludes that “the moral threshold was crossed long before by the creation and tolerance of a poorly supervised and unsafe environment for boys….. Clearly Mr. Hicks should not be in charge of a Catholic boarding school for boys. I therefore encourage all parents to insist that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter take responsible action by removing Mr. Hicks in order to ensure that St. Gregory's Academy be the educational womb of Catholic gentlemen that it purports to and ought to be.”
You can read the entire letter in its entirety here.
The US Federal Office of Personnel Management advises that experts may be hired on a non-competitive basis only if he is “a specialist with skills superior to those of others in the same profession, occupation or activity.” In addition federal agencies are not supposed to use consultant appointments just to be able to avoid the normal employment procedures.
Questions have also been raised about how Scott Bloch used his federal office at Faith Based and Community Initiatives in regards to his own personal financial dealings. Bloch was a shareholder in O'Meara, Ferguson and Kearns (OFK) which was founded by Patrick O'Meara, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, graduate, onetime seminarian and former director of young adult ministry for the Mobile, Alabama, diocese. O'Meara, Ferguson and Kearns had clients from 40 dioceses, eight religious orders, 15 Catholic universities, and more than a dozen other Catholic entities as among its actual or prospective clients. Bloch's May 2003 financial disclosure form estimates the value of his OFK stock at between $5,000-$15,000. Scott Bloch said that he is a "private investor in O'Meara Capitol Partners, which then later became O'Meara Ferguson Kearns. He claimed that he was a small shareholder, a passive investor." Bloch had a relationship through O'Meara, Ferguson and Kearns with Republican National Committee Catholic Outreach chair Deal Hudson and also with Bishop David Ricken of Cheyenne, WY. Deal Hudson resigned his Republican National Catholic outreach position, following revelations that while a member of the faculty at Fordham University he engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a freshman woman. OFK shareholder Scott Bloch was the key firm contact on OFK documents on deals with the Cheyenne, WY, diocese as well as the Southwest Indian Foundation (a New Mexico-based Franciscan-affiliated charity). The Southwest Indian Foundation had received federal grants from the Veterans Administration "to assist community-based agencies [to] acquire, renovate, or build transitional housing facilities, provide supportive services for homeless veterans and purchase vans for outreach to or transportation of homeless veterans." But there were concerns in how that federal money was spent. Southwest Indian Foundation in April 2005 was given a rating of “F” as a non-profit charity by the American Institute of Philanthropy because Southwest Indian Foundation did not directly benefit charity recipients adequately, because too much money was used for fundraising overhead and too little for actual charity work.
Scott Bloch was involved with the Southwest Indian Foundation according to documents at the OFK. In May of 2009, The Arizona Republic reported on its yearlong investigation of activities between the Don Stewart Association (DSA), a Phoenix-based televangelism ministry , and its affiliated secular charities including Southwest Indian Foundation. Twenty two charities, including the Southwest Indian Foundation, had ties to the Don Stewart Association and were accused of performed controversial transactions with supplies that helped inflate their finances. With such lapses in financial accountability, it was difficult if not impossible to tell if the charity actually raised its own funds or even how much of the money actually was theirs. Charities in the network, such as Southwest Indian Foundation, had used up to 76 percent of their donated cash on salaries and other expenses and often gave cash to other charities in the same network. In non-profit organizations there are many connections between charitable organizations including shared board members and shared staff, personal ties and family connections. The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the world's largest workplace charity campaign which allows federal employees and military personnel to donate a portion of their paychecks to charities of their choice. The 22 charities reported $154 million in total revenue over three years. About four-fifths of that was in the form of gifts in kind. The charities transferred ownership of goods to other groups including $80 million of goods that the charities never physically handled.
Scott Bloch’s relationship with Deal Hudson of the Republican National Committee (RNC) is also under scrutiny. Deal Hudson was once a top consultant to the White House on Catholic issues and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee’s Catholic outreach effort. But after being exposed for a sexual liaison with an 18 year old Fordham University student and even more recent sexual misconduct, Deal Hudson was forced to resign his RNC position as well as forced out of his job as Crisis publisher. Crisis magazine is affiliated with the think tank, Morley Institute for Church and Culture.
While at OSC, Scott Bloch made a deliberate habit of avoiding the competitive merit system and instead hiring his own political allies and recent graduates from the ultra-conservative Ave Maria law school. Scott Bloch had ordered the removal from the OSC Web site and training materials any statement that discrimination based on sexual orientation was a banned practice in the federal workplace. This was in spite of an existing federal policy that “prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation.” Scott Bloch professed the view that discrimination simply based on sexual orientation simply did not come under OSC purview. While at the OSC, Scott Bloch deliberately removed several qualified career civil servants from their positions by forced transfer and other retaliatory measures (including removing staff expressing concerns about consultant Alan Hicks). This is why Bloch was under investigation by the Government Accountability Office, the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency and a Senate committee.
The OSC is an independent body charged with defending federal employees who disclose incidents of abuse, waste or mismanagement, or who have been discriminated against in the workplace because of political affiliation or personal status. But what was Scott Bloch’s record as head of the OSC. Scott Bloch, as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel, dismissed or otherwise disposed of 600 whistleblower disclosures where civil servants reported waste, fraud, threats to public safety and violations of law. Scott Bloch has did not identify a single case where he has ordered an investigation into the employee’s charges. Bloch reported that he made 470 claims of retaliation disappear. Scott Bloch never – not once – affirmatively represented a whistleblower to obtain relief before the civil service court system, called the Merit Systems Protection Board. There are those who believed Scott Bloch needed to be terminated under the “neglect of duty statute.”
To protect the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) from outside pressure, the agency’s director is appointed for five years and cannot be removed except in cases of illegal misconduct. But Scott Bloch’s employment as Special Counsel for the Office of Special Counsel ended abruptly on October 23, 2008 during a meeting with White House officials. On April 27, 2010 Bloch pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress for, according to the U.S. Attorney, "willfully and unlawfully withholding pertinent information from a House committee investigating his decision to have several government computers wiped ...." Bloch was originally slated to be sentenced on July 20, 2010. On February 2, Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson ruled that Bloch faced a mandatory sentence of at least one month in prison. Now after her final ruling Scott Bloch faces a month in jail for pleading guilty to criminal contempt of the US Congress.
“It is beyond ironic that Scott Bloch heads the very office that is supposed to enforce the rules against nepotism and favoritism,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.
Documents obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER) www.peer.org/ under the Freedom of Information Act:
See the pay scale and terms of Alan Hicks consultant appointment
View the redacted work product of Alan Hicks
Read the “Consultant Statement of Work”
Look at unfolding developments in the troubled tenure of Scott Bloch as Special Counsel
Concerns continue to be raised about the Charitable Choice program, under which Scott Bloch rolled out the Faith-based and Community Initiatives program. Charitable Choice clearly blurred the line between public funding and private religious organizations. These distinctions regarding separation of Church and State were further eroded with a new Texas law that allows for the financing of parish meeting rooms and schools as long as no “sanctuaries” or “chapels” are built with the tax-exempt bond financing. Usually State and local municipal bonds are issued to benefit nonprofit organizations that pledge to use the funds to fulfill a public purpose. The long-term borrowing created by the bonds are backed by the government's ability to tax its residents so in order to protect the tax payers these bonds are secured usually with real estate holdings. But in Austin Texas $79.8 million in bond financing went to the Capital Area Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporation and is not backed with the value of diocesan real estate holdings. This new Texas law opens the door for faith based organizations with little collateral to qualify for large amounts of municipal bond money. Making money easily available to religious non-profits without real estate assets, puts the general taxpayer at risk should the non-profit not fulfill its debt obligations on the municipal bonds. This municipal bond money used to further the capital improvements of a particular religious group, would in the event of debt non-payment fall on all tax-payers regardless of religious affiliation. Charitable Choice opens this door and the new Texas law holds the door open widely for those who been coached to use this system.
References and additional information:
1. Alan Hicks was former Headmaster, St. Gregory's Academy, RR 8, Box 8214, Moscow, Pa., 18444 St. Gregory's Academy 100 Griffin Road Moscow PA 18444
2. Information taken from: The June 26, 1994 issue of The Wanderer 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107
3. Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond, President, College of St. Justin Martyr, 142 Market Road, Greeley, PA 18425, www.SaintJustinMartyr.org
4. Joe Feuerherd "Catholic connections help pitch plan". National Catholic Reporter. FindArticles.com. 06 Apr, 2011. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_32_41/ai_n15933152/
5. White House pulls plug on fundraiser’s ‘briefing’ Washington Times, 12:01 a.m., Friday, June 3, 2005 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/jun/3/20050603-120131-8586r/
6. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national non-profit alliance of local, state and federal scientists, and law enforcement officers. PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, Phone: (202) 265-7337 Fax: (202) 265-4192 Email: info[at]peer.org www.peer.org/ Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. Public employees are a unique force working for environmental enforcement. In the ever-changing tide of political leadership, these front-line employees stand as defenders of the public interest within their agencies and as the first line of defense against the exploitation and pollution of our environment. PEER works nation-wide with government scientists, land managers, environmental law enforcement agents, field specialists and other resource professionals committed to responsible management of America’s public resources. Resource employees in government agencies have unique responsibilities as stewards of the environment.
7. Southwest Indian Foundation 100 West Coal Avenue, Gallup, NM 87301
8.American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report http://www.charitywatch.org/ratingguide.html American Institute of Philanthropy, P.O. Box 578460, Chicago, IL 60657 Phone: (773) 529-2300
Fax: (773) 529-0024 E-mail: www.charitywatch.org/
9. Joe Feuerherd "Catholic connections help pitch plan". National Catholic Reporter. FindArticles.com. 06 Apr, 2011. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_32_41/ai_n15933152/
10. Don Stewart: A life in pursuit of God's reward, The Arizona Republic / AZCentral.com by Robert Anglen, May 4, 2009 http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/05/04/20090504charities-stewart0504.html
11. Anglen, Robert (May. 3, 2009). "Network of charities". The Arizona Republic. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/05/03/20090503charities0503network.html.
12.Anglen, Robert (May. 3, 2009). "Follow the cash: Charities spent bulk of it on salaries, expenses". The Arizona Republic. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2009/05/04/20090504charities-day2-container.html.
13."Attorney general reviewing charities' practices". KSWT-TV. May 10, 2009. http://www.kswt.com/Global/story.asp?S=10335560&nav=menu613_2_6.
14.Anglen, Robert (Sept. 27, 2009). "Feds look into group of charities". The Arizona Republic. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/09/27/20090927charity0927.html
15.Finances, Fraud, and False Teaching in the Troubled History of Don Stewart by G. Richard Fisher http://www.trinityfi.org/press/donstewart.html
16. White House pulls plug on fundraiser’s ‘briefing’ Washington Times, 12:01 a.m., Friday, June 3, 2005 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/jun/3/20050603-120131-8586r/
17.Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national non-profit alliance of local, state and federal scientists, and law enforcement officers. PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, Phone: (202) 265-7337 Fax: (202) 265-4192 Email: info[at]peer.org www.peer.org/ Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. Public employees are a unique force working for environmental enforcement. These front line employees have unmatched technical knowledge, long-term service and proven experiences which make these professionals a credible voice for meaningful reform. PEER works nation-wide with government scientists, land managers, environmental law enforcement agents, field specialists and other resource professionals committed to responsible management of America’s public resources.