The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.
The man who's leading a federal investigation of White House political operations is himself under investigation over accusations that he politicized the agency he heads.
The New York Times reports Wednesday that Scott J. Bloch, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, is being investigated by the inspector general of the Office of Personnel Management following complaints by employees who work for Bloch that he "tried to dismantle the agency, illegally barred employees from talking to the news media and reduced a backlog of whistle-blower complaints by simply discarding old cases."
Bloch told CNN Wednesday morning that "There is no truth to any of those allegations." On Tuesday, he pledged he "will not leave any stone unturned" in his sweeping probe of political activities involving the White House and senior presidential adviser Karl Rove.
Bloch's investigation will reportedly look at the U.S. attorney firings, missing White House e-mails and allegations that administration officials violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities on government time.
But critics are already raising questions about Bloch's ability to conduct a fair inquiry, citing his ties to the administration and conservative groups.
The Washington Post describes Bloch as a "controversial figure," whose record on gay rights and whistle-blowers has sparked criticism.
"There is a serious question as to whether Bloch will just provide cover for an administration that is covering for him," Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Democratic-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Los Angeles Times.
"Witch Hunt" Or Constitutional Oversight?
Since they assumed control of Congress in January, Democrats have moved quickly to bulk up the investigative staffs of key watchdog committees with an eye on keeping the Bush administration in check.
The Washington Post reports they've hired more than 200 people, including "lawyers, former reporters and congressional staffers who left oversight committees that had all but atrophied" while Republicans were in control of Congress.
And they've already launched investigations into issues ranging from the firings of U.S. attorneys to alleged administration interference in scientists' reports on global warming to how refuted claims that Iraq obtained nuclear material from Niger became part of the case for going to war.
Republican leaders call the spate of investigations a "partisan witch hunt." But Democrats, and even some Republicans, call it "an overdue return to their constitutional role of executive-branch oversight."
Either way, their years in the minority have left Democrats seriously out of practice in the art of investigations. Before new investigators were hired, the Post says some Democratic staffers "resorted to using Google to search for documents, oblivious to Congress's power to demand them."
Push To End "Assassin" Game
In a popular game played on college and high school campuses around America, students ambush and attack one another with "weapons" that sometimes resemble guns.
The goal of the game, called "Assassin," is for players to "kill" or "eliminate" as many opponents as possible, while avoiding being attacked themselves.
The winner is the last player left standing, or the one who tallies the most "kills." The game can involve dozens of players and last for weeks.
But in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting rampage, USA Today reports there are increased calls from school officials and police to pull the plug on Assassin.
Police are concerned that players wielding plastic guns or water guns could be mistaken for real-life killers, putting themselves and others in danger.
"Virginia Tech has heightened everyone's concern and alerted them to what's going on in the country," said a police chief in Illinois, where gun-toting players have sparked alarm. "It's just terrible."
A NOTE TO READERS: The Skinny is now available via e-mail. Click here and follow the directions to register to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.