NPR logo Federal Whistle-Blower Chief Fires Spokesman


Federal Whistle-Blower Chief Fires Spokesman

Another senior official has left the troubled Office of Special Counsel in Washington, as the office's leader remains under federal investigation for allegedly destroying documents and retaliating against employees.

Special Counsel Scott Bloch terminated his spokesman and acting chief of staff, Jim Mitchell, Friday morning. Bloch gave Mitchell no warning or explanation, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

Mitchell's departure comes one month after the office's second-in-command resigned to protest Bloch's leadership. The deputy special counsel, Jim Byrne, accused Bloch in a resignation letter of putting "political agendas and personal vendettas" ahead of the office's mission.

The Office of Special Counsel's mission is to represent federal employees who have been mistreated. Whistle-blower groups have accused Bloch of ignoring piles of legitimate complaints from career government workers to protect political appointees.

The FBI raided Bloch's office and home last spring, seizing computers and boxes of documents. Prosecutors are investigating whether Bloch hired an outside computer company to purge electronic files relevant to an investigation of Bloch's leadership.

Bloch has shown no intention of resigning, and the White House has not asked him to leave.