The Senate late Thursday confirmed Washington lawyer Carolyn Lerner to be the U.S. special counsel, the office responsible for investigating complaints by many federal whistleblowers and for enforcing restrictions on partisan political activity by federal employees.
Lerner’s confirmation comes more than two years after her predecessor, Scott Bloch, resigned. Bloch was under investigation for retaliating against his own employees when investigators said he hired Geeks on Call to wipe the memory of several computers improperly. He pleaded guilty to contempt of Congress and was sentenced in March to a month in prison.
Lerner is a founding partner of Washington’s Heller, Huron, Chertkof, Lerner, Simon & Salzman, which specializes in employment and civil rights law. President Barack Obama nominated her in December to head the small, independent counsel’s office. She received the support of several organizations, such as the Government Accountability Project, which advocate for whistleblowers.
Senators approved Lerner’s nomination Thursday without a formal vote or debate. The office has a fixed term of five years.
Lerner said today she’s honored by the Senate’s confirmation and that she’s looking forward to starting after wrapping up her law practice. She said she’ll be spending much of her initial time hearing from people internally and from others interested in its work.
“I certainly have ideas, as well, but my first task will be to listen,” Lerner said. Asked about the challenge of succeeding Bloch, she said, “I think we’re all looking forward and not backward. I think I’ll just leave it at that.”
William Reukauf, a career employee in the office, has been serving as acting special counsel since October 2008.
Updated at 3:32 p.m. with Lerner's comments