Karl Rove is under investigation by the executive branch. So, too, is his investigator.
On Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reported that the Office of Special Counsel, an obscure federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that is supposed to protect federal employees from prohibited personnel practices, is
preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.
The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House emails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.
Rove is tied to all three elements of the OSC investigation. “We will take the evidence where it leads us,” Scott Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel, told The Los Angeles Times. “We will not leave any stone unturned.”
But who is Scott Bloch, and should his vow be taken at face value? The Times story did not provide background on the fellow who will be examining whether Rove and other administration officials may have violated the law by using political email accounts for White House business, by explicitly encouraging government actions for direct partisan gains, and by dismissing David Iglesias, a US attorney in New Mexico. Bloch is a George W. Bush appointee, and his recent record is not one of a relentless pursuer of government corruption and wrongdoing. Here’s an overview:
* In February, The Washington Post reported Bloch himself was under investigation:
The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general has been investigating allegations by current and former OSC employees that Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch retaliated against underlings who disagreed with his policies–by, among other means, transferring them out of state–and tossed out legitimate whistle-blower cases to reduce the office backlog. Bloch denies the accusations, saying that under his leadership the agency has grown more efficient and receptive to whistle-blowers.
The 16-month investigation has been beset by delays, accusations and counter-accusations. The latest problem began two weeks ago, when Bloch’s deputy sent staffers a memo asking them to inform OSC higher-ups when investigators contact them. Further, the memo read, employees should meet with investigators in the office, in a special conference room. Some employees cried foul, saying the recommendations made them afraid to be interviewed in the probe.