April 18, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – A top Agriculture Department official appointed by President Donald Trump in January was a “key player” in an effort to get rid of gay and lesbian workers in his agency during the Bush administration, ProPublica reports.
James Renne, named to the department Jan. 30, participated in the scheme in 2004 while deputy special counsel at the Office of Special Counsel, the agency that’s supposed to protect federal workers who make complaints about corruption and wrongdoing. Renne’s boss, Special Counsel Scott Bloch, later told federal investigators that he “had a license” to get rid of gay employees, and would “ship them out.” They were reassigned from Washington to a new office in Detroit, and fired if they refused to go. Renne, according to the 2013 report, took the lead in hiring a consultant to set up the Detroit office, and ordered language stating that workers were protected against discrimination based on sexual orientation deleted from the agency’s Web site. The report concluded that the reassignment scheme “did not intend to achieve legitimate management-related purposes.” Renne also served on Trump’s “beachhead team” at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Read more