The head of a small Federal agency has been investigating the Bush Administration's political operation since last spring and has been fending off an investigation of his own activities. Scott Bloch, head of the U.S. Special Counsel's Office, has been looking into the activities of former White House political director Karl Rove's alleged use of government employees in campaign activities. The Special Counsel is responsible for enforcing laws against whistle blower retaliation and politicking within Federal agencies.
Yesterday, Mr. Bloch, through an agency spokesman, said that he would not comply with a request by the Office of Personnel Management for copies of personal files deleted from his government computer. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is investigating
whether Bloch improperly deleted files from his computer and those of two aides. Bloch maintains that he did not and that the OPM request was a "fishing expedition." Still the OPM investigation into Bloch's activities has been ongoing for the past two and a half years.
his investigation of Karl Rove in April of this year, after Democrats in Congress questioned whether government officials were improperly used in an effort to help Republicans get elected in 2006. The allegtions were based on complaints from General Services Administration employees about presentations made by White House political operatives that allegedly urged the employees to find ways to help Republican candidates. By the time Bloch announced his investigation, he himself had already been under investigation for more than a year, leading some to question his motives.
Bloch denies any wrongdoing in the erasure of computer files.
"The computer files were from the internal hard drive of my laptop, and did not include my official work files and e-mail, which are stored on the office network hard drives." He does admit hiring a computer help and support contractor to "scrub" his computer's hard drive, and admits that the contractor, Geeks on Call, used techniques that were not necessary to defeat a suspected computer virus infestation, but does not admit any wrongdoing.
After the laptop hard drive had crashed, which at the time I believed could have been caused by a virus, I wanted to protect my personal files. These included private personal and medical information, privileged communications with my personal attorney, my son's pictures from his tours in Iraq, Christmas lists, etc.
None of this is relevant to the investigation, nor has OPM IG [the office of the OPM's inspector general] informed me of any such allegations. Further, I am concerned that individuals close to the investigation leaked a document related to the computer maintenance with an intent to cast suspicion on me with no proof of any wrongdoing.
Karl Rove left the White House earlier this year, and with little time left for the Bush Administration, it is unclear whether Bloch's investigation is going anywhere. That fact might also shield Bloch from the investigation into his alleged misdoings. The Bush Administration has precious little time left to spend investigating itself, and engaging in internecine agency battles.