Lawmaker presses OSC chief to hand over e-mails

The head of the Office of Special Counsel is facing questions from members of his own political party on his office's handling of an investigation into a potential violation of the law limiting politics in federal agencies.

In a letter Friday, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Special Counsel Scott Bloch to hand over certain e-mails sent from his personal AOL account that relate to official OSC matters. The e-mails would help determine whether Bloch conducted work through personal e-mail or engaged in prohibited lobbying, Davis said.

In a second letter Friday, Davis posed a wide range of questions stemming from a hearing last week on Bloch's leadership. During the July 12 hearing, Davis revealed that Bloch had sent at least one e-mail from his AOL account related to official business.

The message -- sent June 19 -- discussed the pending reauthorization of OSC, the agency charged with safeguarding the federal merit system. The message also criticized General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan, who OSC investigated for alleged violations of the Hatch Act. And it criticized two members of Congress with oversight responsibility for OSC.

"We have received the letters from Rep. Davis, but we will not be commenting at this time," said James Mitchell, an OSC spokesman.

In a third letter Thursday, Davis asked Randy Falco, chairman and chief executive officer of AOL, to protect and preserve all e-mail records associated with Bloch's account.

Work-related messages sent from private accounts may not get preserved as required by the Federal Records Act, and they also may not be accessible to the public through the Freedom of Information Act, Davis said.

Last month, Bloch sent a report to the White House concluding that Doan violated the Hatch Act and recommending that President Bush discipline her "to the fullest extent" for the violation and her failure to cooperate fully and honestly with OSC's investigation.

OSC found that Doan violated the Hatch Act at a Jan. 26 meeting at the agency's headquarters. During that meeting, attended by Doan and more than 30 political appointees, Scott Jennings, a deputy to Karl Rove, the leading political strategist at the White House, presented a PowerPoint presentation that listed Republican and Democratic political races viewed by the White House as most vulnerable in 2008. Doan asked Jennings how GSA could help Republicans, according to OSC.

The White House has received OSC's report, but a spokeswoman said Thursday the findings still are being reviewed. The report was delivered to President Bush six weeks ago. The spokeswoman has noted the White House has no deadline for completing its review.

Bloch's office also is heading up a governmentwide investigation of alleged violations of the Hatch Act that could go "well into 2008," according to an OSC spokesman. The White House revealed in May that federal agencies hosted about 20 briefings in 2006 and 2007 similar to the one at the heart of the Doan investigation.

Eighteen agencies have been asked by OSC to preserve electronic information dating back to January 2001, including all e-mail records, calendar information, phone logs and hard drives. The task force is headed by James Byrne, deputy special counsel at OSC.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.