Rove prober blasts questions about his religious conservative beliefs as 'offensive'
Scott J. Bloch, a "deeply religious conservative" and "lifelong Republican" who "runs an agency — the Office of Special Counsel — that is turning its investigative spotlight on the White House, in particular the political operation headed by Karl Rove," believes that critics are way off-base when it comes to harping on his beliefs.
"In his undergraduate years, Bloch joined a select group of students in a humanities seminar taught by three professors, all Catholic, who urged their students to study Latin and, according to Gunn, think about 'traditional values,'" Tom Hamburger writes in Tuesday's LA Times. "
Bloch said the course, which emphasized classical education, was a memorable part of his college career, but he declined to discuss any religious effect it might have had."
According to Hamburger, Bloch's face reddened and his voice rose in response to his queries.
"I don't really want to talk about that," Block told the LA Times. "I think it is an intrusion into my privacy … for people to have an interest — a prurient interest, I would add — into whether I am a religious conservative or not. I think it is offensive and uncalled for."
Hamburger adds, "Some of his critics, he says, have cast his beliefs 'into some kind of caricature.'"
"From 2001-2003, Mr. Bloch served as Associate Director and then Deputy Director and Counsel to the Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on First Amendment cases, regulations, intergovernmental outreach, and programmatic initiatives," Bloch's biography at OSC notes.
Three years ago, the New York Blade reported, "Background information that Bloch submitted to a Senate committee during his confirmation hearing for his current job, and news reports about him from a Kansas newspaper, present a picture of a devout Catholic and staunch social conservative."
"On a Senate disclosure form required for his confirmation, Bloch lists the Claremont Institute, an ultra-conservative think tank in California, which boasts of 'fighting the gay rights movement' as one of its mottos, as one of the organizations with which he has been affiliated as a research fellow," Lou Chibbaro Jr. wrote for the New York Blade in 2004.
Excerpts from LA Times article:
Most alarming for the White House is that if the inquiry proceeds as Bloch outlines it, his agency will focus on political strategist Rove's broad effort to harness the federal bureaucracy in service of Republican goals. Even if the investigation does not result in criminal charges, the process of discovery could expose the inner workings of the White House political operation.
Bloch has demonstrated a willingness to go after Rove, at least on the small stuff: The Times has learned that Bloch investigated complaints that Rove's politically related travel had been improperly billed to the government. Bloch's action resulted in a reimbursement to the Treasury Department for what some described as a bookkeeping error.
There is some skepticism about whether a Republican appointee can really investigate the White House, and some have called for the inquiry to be taken out of Bloch's purview.
Critics say Bloch has been soft on Republicans in the past, issuing warning letters instead of taking a hard line in some high-profile cases. They also say that Bloch's investigation is compromised because internal complaints about his management of the Office of Special Counsel have led to a probe by the Office of Personnel Management — putting him in the awkward position of investigating an administration that is investigating him.
FULL LA TIMES ARTICLE CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK