So the White House appointee who's in charge of protecting government whistleblowers abruptly canceled last week's "Whistleblower of the Year" award ceremony, the WPost reports
The award was to go to a prison safety manager, Leroy Smith, who jeopardized his health, his marriage and his job in order to alert officials that dangerous toxins were poisoning workers and inmates at a California facility.
So why did the appointee, Office of Special Counsel (OSC) chief Scott Bloch, pull the plug on the event? Bloch says the sudden death of an employee's relative caused it. But OSC staffers say that's B.S.:
Bloch scuttled Smith's fete, these employees believe, because he got wind of Smith's plan to take his award and head over to a news conference with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Smith and the watchdog group -- which has criticized Bloch in the past -- planned to blast a whistle-blower investigation process that they believe is so lengthy, uncertain and short on employee protections that would-be whistle-blowers might decide it's not worth it.
Bloch's gotten attention in the past for behavior that seems counter to his purported mission. For instance, he gagged
OSC employees from talking with whistleblowers whose complaints were incomplete or unclear, according to the D.C.-based watchdog group Project on Government Oversight. Those cases, he ordered, should simply be dismissed.
Last year, he was accused
of "purging" 20 percent of his office's staff -- career lawyers and investigators who had spent years developing an expertise in working with whistleblowers.
Following that move, Bloch found his office so short-handed he considered using summer interns to investigate and process stacks of whistleblower complaints, POGO says
. How's that for fighting waste, fraud and abuse of power in the federal government?