'It's time now for reconstruction'

Thursday - 10/23/2008, 5:44pm EDT

By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Special Counsel Scott Bloch was fired today by the White House.

The embattled head of the Office of Special Counsel was asked to leave his position on Thursday.

On Thursday's Daily Debrief, hosts Christopher Dorobek and Amy Morris, along with In Depth's Francis Rose, spoke with Jim Mitchell, former OSC Chief of Staff.

Mitchell was fired by Bloch in August of this year and gave FederalNewsRadio an update.

The information has been a little sketchy today and what the White House is saying and what was announced at 4 o'clock at the Office is that he voluntarily resigned and was put on administrative leave until the end of his term, which is the 12th of December. . . . also, and this clarifies something that had disturbed me about his [resignation] letter, because he said he was going to be there until the 5th of January. That, in fact, is the first day he showed up for work five years ago, which made his actual term end the 12th of December. I'm happy to see that the White House made that clear and he's not going to be around. He has no more authority.

In a press release, the White House named William Reukauf as Acting Special Counsel.

He is a veteran of that office for about 30 years and he's one of the two senior civilians. He has held the position of Acting Special Counsel before -- between terms of Special Counsels -- so this isn't something that's new to him. I think we'll just see kind of a steady hand on the tiller right now until everybody knows what direction they're going in terms of a new Special Counsel appointed by the President.

The Office needs fresh leadership, according to Mitchell, and the White House should nominate someone who is not overtly political and has a track record of enforcement.

[They should] nominate that person as Special Counsel as soon as possible; however, I think [the] reality is that the Senate is not going to confirm anybody before the Inauguration -- but as soon as new leadership can be brought in there, there's a lot that needs to be done that wasn't done over the last five years.

The Office of the Special Council has a budget of $17 million and employs 111 people, according to Mitchell. He says he hopes that the appointment of a new Special Counsel becomes a priority, despite the smallness of the agency.

This is very important . . . and that staff works very, very hard to try to take care of the constituents - the whistleblowers -- enforcing the Hatch Act and the Prohibited Personnel Practices. . . . They've been working under what I've always felt was Hurricane Scott for the last five years -- and the storm has passed -- and it's time now for reconstruction.

Mitchell says he feels the overall management of the office needs to be much more hands-on and more accountability should be present.

He says, in his opinion, morale at the office had been low, but improved today.

I understand that when the announcement was made, there was an awful lot of applause in the room. . . . The staff applauded and, from what I can tell, were leaking it out as quickly as possible to everybody they could -- because then everybody was calling me.

FederalNewsRadio's Francis Rose spoke with Scott Bloch shortly after the resignation was announced. Bloch referred calls to his office and said he had no comment.

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