Office of Special Counsel chief under fire for erasing computer files

By Dan Friedman

November 28, 2007 — Conflict of interest charges flew Wednesday after a report that Special Counsel Scott Bloch, whose office is investigating improper White House political activity, erased computer files that may affect a separate probe into his own conduct.

Bloch’s Office of Special Counsel, which investigates violations of government personnel rules, gained attention last spring when he announced a probe into whether briefings on electoral politics — given to appointees at most agencies by former White House political aide Karl Rove or his aides — led to violations of the Hatch Act, which bars use of government resources for partisan politics.

But when he announced the probe, Bloch faced an investigation into whether he politicized his office and retaliated against whistleblowers who opposed his policies, among them how OSC processes whistleblower complaints. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general, who leads the two-and-one-half-year-old investigation into Bloch, has learned the special counsel used agency funds to pay a computer-help company for a so-called seven-level wipe of his computer and those of two former aides. The wipe can prevent experts from recovering data.

Ironically, one of the areas targeted by OSC’s wide-ranging investigation is White House officials’ heavy use of campaign e-mail accounts. The White House has said many of the e-mails, which congressional critics have charged may have been used to mask improper political activity, were accidently erased. OSC has said it needs a budget increase for the Hatch Act probe to cover expenses including computer forensics equipment for such tasks as searching computer hard drives for deleted files. An OSC spokesman said Wednesday that the agency’s investigation is not now focused on e-mails.

For more see CongressDaily.

One Response

    A whistleblower is a person who raises a concern about wrong doing occurring in an organization or body of people

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