What do you do when you have been caught breaking civil service rules left and right as a Presidential Appointee and consequently been forced out of that job? Why of course you sue everyone in sight under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act. Which is exactly what the former Office of Special Counsel chief, Scott “I got no clue” Bloch is doing.
Let’s back up a little bit so everyone can remember the facts about Mr. Bloch. The Office of Special Counsel is charged with protecting federal whistleblowers. That is actually the mandate of this office, to make sure that when someone notices illegal or improper acts happening in the federal government and comes forward, this office looks into the it and they make sure that the person reporting the misdeeds is not retaliated against. Or at least that is what they are supposed to do. This is also the office that is supposed to enforce the Hatch act, which prohibits using government resources for electioneering purposes.
Now you have to remember that this was the criminal Bush administration, so they were not really keen on having any kind of actual enforcement neither of the Hatch Act nor, for that matter having whistleblowers come forward. This was the Administration filled with John Yoo and Monica Goodling after all. It was a place where Karl Rove went to Executive branch departments and gave Power Point presentations on helping Republicans win new seats and defend old ones.
So, there is good ol’ Scotty at the helm of the office that would get any complaints. He was, until recently that is, a “good Bushie” and did what you might expect. He started out purging his office of anyone who disagreed with him on summary dismissal of whistleblower claims. He is also started to retaliate against people in his own office for disagreeing or complaining about his actions. Real nice from the guy who was supposed to protect whistleblowers.
He had a particular thing against gay citizens and went out of his way to hire a deputy to deal with whistleblowers in that area who had written extensively against the so-called “Homosexual agenda”. He also ordered any mention of sexual orientation nondiscrimination removed from the Offices literature and website. Not exactly the kind of evenhandedness you’d expect, eh?
It got so bad that outside groups called for an investigation of block for breaking whistleblower laws, including the Human Rights Campaign. That presented a Catch-22 since he was the chief of the office that would normally do it. Instead the Office of Personnel Management was tasked with looking into it.
At this point Bloch pulled what can only be called a blockhead move. He had his work computer and the laptops of several deputies subjected to what is called a “seven layer” scrub of their hard drives. What makes this even more suspicious is that instead of using the DOJ IT department, he called the Best Buy “Geek Squad” to do it.
This is where he got into deep trouble. He wound up testifying to Congress and lying (by his own admission) about the erasure of e-mails and files on those computers. When he plead guilty he was sentenced to one month in jail, the minimum sentence. Block has since appealed on; get this, the basis that he did not know that a guilty plea would carry 30 days in the Crowbar Hotel.
Now he is also filing this civil RICO suit. He is suing a laundry list of folks, from the Human Rights Campaign to Karl Rove to the Government Accountability program. He is claiming that these disparate groups acted to get him fired from his job. And all he wants in compensation is 101 million, plus another 101 million in punitive damages to make sure this unlikely rouge’s gallery never gets together to do it to anyone else in the future.
What makes this fun, in that watching a drunk guy clean a pool kind of fun, is that Scott Bloch is representing himself in this matter. As you may know, I grew up in a family full of lawyers. Think of it as being raised by wolves but without all the cuddliness that wolves bring and you’ll have a good idea of my childhood.
The flip side of that is I have learned some of the legal profession axioms. One of the most famous is “The man who represents himself has a fool for a client”. The point there is that you should never be your own counsel because you are too close to the case. By hiring an attorney you get someone else who can be more dispassionate and can argue your case without being emotionally invested in the outcome. That is really important when it comes to the law.
If that were not bad enough there is the fact that civil RICO cases brought by individuals have a horrible record of success, as in almost never. There is a ton of background information that needs to be collected to prove a conspiracy and even with a judge who is incredibly liberal on discovery it is almost impossible for a citizen suit to do the ground work.
Part of the RICO law requires proving that there is a ongoing criminal enterprise and that it was through that enterprise that whatever crime you are suing for was committed. Block is trying to claim that the Federal Government was the criminal enterprise, and his firing was the crime that was conspired and committed.
There is also the problem of what he is trying to defend. It is more than a little clear that he was such a homophobic zealot in his time as Chief of OSC that even Bush administration officials could not stomach his actions. After all it was the White House that ordered, in the Gonzalez DOJ an investigation of complaints against him. Think about how bad it would have to be for them to take that kind of action!
Basically he was being forced out for being a bigot and not having enough sense to talk in code or keep his mouth shut. Now he is going to claim that it was illegal for them to investigate him and subsequently demand his resignation.
In the words of a lawyer friend of mine, he is going to get creamed in court. It might be the reason that he is representing himself, it is completely likely that he could not find any attorney who was willing to waste their time and reputation on a case that has no chance of being successful.
My Dad always made a point to remind me that just because you go to law school and can pass a bar exam does not make you a good attorney. In fact his said that a lot of his success was based on that fact alone. We knew that the Bush administration was filled with bad lawyers, from Harriet Miers, to Alberto Gonzalez to Monica Goodling to John Yoo, but it seems that Scott Bloch, having earned the distinction as a bigots bigot is going to try for another crown as the absolutely worst.
The floor is yours.