Scott Bloch, the controversial head of the Office of Special Counsel, announced on Monday that he will resign Jan. 5. Bloch's five-year term expires in January, although with no replacement nominated, he conceivably could have stayed on for months under the next president.
Since his confirmation in 2004, Bloch -- a lawyer who previously worked on a Justice Department task force for faith-based initiatives -- has generated heated opposition from government watchdog groups and key members of Congress.
As head of OSC, which enforces federal workplace rules including whistleblower protections, Bloch angered gay rights groups by reversing his predecessor's policy of enforcing cases of alleged workplace discrimination against homosexuals. Several OSC employees who opposed that decision later sued, saying Bloch illegally retaliated against them.
During that investigation, Bloch was accused of destroying computer evidence sought by investigators. Last May, FBI and other federal agents raided Bloch's office and home, and a grand jury was convened to consider possible obstruction of justice charges against him.
Several House members, including Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking member Tom Davis, R-Va., have urged Bloch to resign.
In a defiant two-page resignation letter to President Bush that quotes Sophocles and lists his achievements at OSC, Bloch did not directly reference those issues.
But he wrote: "As you well know, doing the right thing can result in much criticism and controversy from every side. I am proud to have enforced your stated policy goal of upholding rule of law, enforcing the law as it is written, not according to fads or special interest pressure."
The letter continued: "It has been an honor to serve in your administration, to embrace the duties entrusted to me and to carry out the oath I took before Justice [Clarence] Thomas and before God ... I have sought to execute the responsibilities of this office without regard to interest groups, partisan concerns or pressures from outside the law."
For more on the scandal, see Six Degrees of Scott Bloch: A Scandal Scorecard.