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Office of Special Counsel chief Scott J. Bloch resigned under pressure after meeting with White House officials yesterday, five months after the FBI raided his home and his government office as part of an ongoing obstruction of justice probe.
Bloch had refused persistent demands from lawmakers and his own employees to leave before the end of the Bush administration, writing to the president on Monday that he would fulfill his five-year term and exit in January.
Citing the Greek playwright Sophocles and defending his tenure at the office designed to protect whistleblowers, Bloch wrote that "doing the right thing can result in much criticism and controversy from every side."
Employees learned of Bloch's removal at a hastily called 4 p.m. meeting when they were instructed not to accept his phone calls and told that he no longer had access to the office. The interim chief will be William E. Reukauf, a career employee, according to a White House news release.
In recent weeks several of Bloch's top deputies have left the office, blaming untenable workplace conditions and distractions that stemmed from the criminal investigation.
The OSC is supposed to be a haven for federal whistleblowers and disgruntled employees. But the tables turned under Bloch, who previously worked at the Justice Department's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
It is the principal official responsible for protecting federal employees from reprisals for complaints about waste and fraud. He also polices violations of Hatch Act prohibitions on political activities in federal offices.