World News

FBI agents search special counsel's home, office

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI agents searched the office and the home of the head of a federal office that oversees protection for federal whistleblowers as part of an investigation into whether he obstructed justice, a federal law enforcement source said on Tuesday.

The source said the searches took place at the home and the office of Scott Bloch, who has served since 2004 as the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The agency investigates prohibited employee practices, including reprisals against whistleblowers and involvement in politics.

The inspector general for the government’s Office of Personnel Management has been investigating Bloch for more than two years, looking into allegations he retaliated against career employees and obstructed an investigation, the source said.

The investigation initially had been requested by the White House to look into allegations that Bloch had abused his authority, a spokesman at the special counsel’s office said.

The investigation was later expanded to include the FBI and prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., the source said. Spokesmen for the FBI and the prosecutors declined to comment on the searches.

Bloch was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

James Mitchell, a spokesman for U.S. Office of Special Counsel, said about 20 FBI agents took part in the raid, searching Bloch’s office and shutting down the main computer server.

“It’s not clear to us what they are searching for,” he said. “We are cooperating with law enforcement. We do not know what this is about. Meanwhile, we are continuing to perform the independent mission of this office,” he added in an e-mail.