Scott Bloch was under siege from all sides when he led the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Now he's hoping the experience will help him pull in business.
On the Web site of his new law firm, Bloch's profile plays up the attention he received but not the controversy. He “attained notoriety” and “garnered national news,” says the Web site for Tarone & McLaughlin, a three-lawyer firm in Washington.
“He has testified on federal rights before the United States Congress and has appeared regularly in the media,” the profile adds, listing 10 media outlets that covered his work.
Bloch submitted his resignation as special counsel in October 2008, amid a criminal investigation into whether he destroyed evidence of retaliation against his own employees. The little-known independent agency that he led is responsible for protecting federal whistleblowers from retaliation, among other duties.
His five-year tenure had been controversial. Bloch angered congressional Democrats by weakening enforcement of laws protecting gay federal employees from discrimination, and 12 of his employees filed a complaint in 2005 after Bloch tried to reassign them involuntarily from the office’s D.C. headquarters to regional offices around the country.
Later, he drew the ire of the Bush administration by launching an investigation of the firings of U.S. attorneys in 2006 — a move that Bloch’s critics called an attempt to save his job.
This morning, The National Law Journal reported that the Office of Special Counsel has struggled to find footing since Bloch resigned. One lawyer who represents whistleblowers from within the office says the working environment has improved, while other whistleblower lawyers complain that the office has been less active in responding to alleged violations of personnel law.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is leading the criminal investigation of Bloch. A spokesman declined to comment, except to say the investigation is ongoing.
Bloch does not mention the investigation in his firm profile. A former employment lawyer in Kansas, he was granted a D.C. law license in November 2008. He declined an interview request, but in an e-mail he wrote that he performed his job as special counsel “to the best of my ability” and is “committed to continued support for whistleblowers.”
C. Michael Tarone, name partner at Tarone & McLaughlin, said in an interview that he was not concerned about the criticisms of Bloch’s tenure as special counsel, calling them politically motivated. “He took on some powerful political opponents. He took on the White House. And it took a lot of gumption,” he said.
Tarone said that Bloch joined the firm several months ago and is specializing in employment law. He called Bloch a “magnet for cases,” though he declined to say how many clients Bloch has. “His intellect is very impressive. He’s got an ability to write and to speak that’s commanding. He ranks about as high up on the food chain as I’ve ever met,” Tarone said.
President Barack Obama has not nominated anyone to succeed Bloch.
UPDATE: There is also a Web site for Bloch's legal defense.