James Byrne, the second in command at the Office of Special Counsel, announced his resignation on Thursday afternoon.
Byrne sent a message to office employees, saying, "I am grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded during my time at OSC." Sources close to Byrne describe this as a resignation in protest over the way the office has been run under Special Counsel Scott Bloch.
Controversy has been a regular feature of Bloch's tenure at the Office of Special Counsel. His job is to investigate government whistle-blower complaints. Early on, Bloch was accused of ignoring those complaints and retaliating against his own employees. Then, a government office started investigating the accusations against Bloch, and Bloch hired a private company to scrub his computer. Critics suspected that the scrub was intended to delete information relevant to the investigation, but Bloch said he hired the company to eliminate a virus in the interests of preserving relevant information.
In May, the FBI raided Bloch's home and office. Agents are looking into whether the computer scrub constituted illegal obstruction of a federal investigation. A grand jury has begun hearing testimony from witnesses.
Deputy Special Counsel Byrne did not mention Bloch in his resignation letter to OSC employees. Bloch has given no indication that he plans to leave his job.