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Then Ruch got to the nub of his complaints, saying that Bloch is “trying to make the office into a center of like-minded movement conservatives.” Even if this were true, is that a crime? Does Ruch expect Bush’s appointee to hire people who will thwart him?
PEER repeatedly cites as an example of Bloch’s “cronyism” his temporary hire of Alan Hicks. According to OSC spokeswoman Cathy Deeds, Hicks, the former headmaster of Bloch’s son’s school, was hired as a trusted advisor with management and other experience. A temporary hire paid less than $7,000 for 120 hours of work, Hicks assisted Bloch with the agency review. Under 5 U.S.C. § 3109, intermittent experts or consultants are not required to be hired competitively.
By “cronies,” PEER means Catholics. PEER’s problem with Bloch is not that he has hired people he knows, but that he has hired Catholics he knows. Last Monday, PEER’s press release made sure to mention that Hicks oversaw a Catholic boarding school. Its Nov. 17, 2004 press release smeared Hicks by suggesting he was complicit in the Scranton, Pennsylvania, diocese’s sexual abuse scandal. He had nothing to do with it. In that release, Ruch, citing a popular anti-Catholic book, said, “Scott Bloch’s personnel practices are taken straight from The DaVinci Code rather than the civil service manual.”
The PEER press release also said Bloch “is a religious conservative who had served as deputy director in the Justice Department’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.” PEER cited Bloch’s hires of graduates from “ultra-conservative” Ave Maria Law School as Schedule A attorneys, who can be hired non-competitively, ignoring that he has also hired attorneys from George Washington, Georgetown, and the University of Virginia. And what exactly is Ruch’s objection to Ave Maria? It is an accredited law school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and its first class of graduates performed better on the bar exam than any other Michigan school. Are graduates there prohibited from government service in his view?
Bloch’s predecessor Elaine Kaplan hired her labor union friends. Did Ruch object to that? Cary P. Sklar, who served as an associate special counsel under Kaplan at OSC, also worked for her during her last tenure at the National Treasury Employees Union, to which she has since returned.
Religious faith is a punch line to Bloch’s critics: Ruch told the Bob Garfield radio show last month, “Mr. Bloch used to be the deputy director of the Justice Department Office of Faith Based Initiatives, and so we’re telling whistleblowers that you better have faith…” He laughed as he said this.
Bloch’s troubles from these groups may only increase in the coming months, especially if conservatives do not expose the left’s anti-Catholic campaign here for what it is. A GAO spokesman confirmed Tuesday that his agency is auditing the OSC, at the behest of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.). He could not disclose the audit’s scope. The Senate Committee on Government Affairs plans hearings into OSC this spring.
“Perhaps I’m unconventional in my methods,” says Bloch. “But I’m not beholden to bureaucratic diplomacy. That’s not something I want to understand.” And contact with his son L. Cpl. Michael Bloch, 21, the oldest of seven, who just returned from his second tour in Iraq, keeps him “grounded in the mission of the agency.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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