A raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on a federal agency is unusual and usually associated with criminal activity by members of organized crime rather than on political appointees or civil servants.
So an FBI raid on the Office of Special Counsel in Washington, DC is unusual. Agents are reportedly seizing computers and documents belonging to the Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, and his staff according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Agents are also searching Scott Bloch’s private residence in Virginia.
Office employees told reporters that the FBI searches are apparently focusing on alleged obstruction of justice by the Special Counsel during the course of a 2006 inquiry into his conduct in office.
Many readers are familiar with the Office of Special Counsel as the office investigates and prosecutes allegations concerning violations of the Hatch Act which restricts political activity for federal employees. Of more national political import, Bloch’s staff was looking into whether he or other White House officials improperly used federal agencies to help re-elect Republicans in 2006.
Bloch has also been under investigation since 2005. The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general has been investigating claims that the Special Counsel abused his authority and retaliated against employees or improperly dismissed whistleblower cases.
The Journal reported some time ago that the agency bypassed its own technicians and called in a private service to erase data from agency computers. Mr. Bloch said at the time that the purpose was to rid the computers of a virus and not to delete records relating to the investigation of his office. The erasures may also be part of the reason behind the FBI raid.