Bush-Era Official Accused of 'Gay Witch Hunts' Hired by Trump Admin

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(EDGE) A top official for the George W. Bush administration, who was reportedly involved in purging gay employees at the time, has been hired to the Trump administration, according to ProPublica.

James Renne was part of Donald Trump's transition team at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in December. But he was hired on January 30 in a senior role at the Department of Agriculture, the investigative journalism site reports. The exact details of Renne's job are currently unclear.

Renne was hired in 2004 to work for the Bush administration as deputy special counsel of the Office and Special Counsel, which ProPublica describes as a small federal agency "that is supposed to protect employees across the government from retaliation for whistleblowing." Not long after being hired, Renne and his boss Scott Bloch were surrounded in controversy when career employees said they were unfairly fired, claiming they were nixed due to their sexuality.

In a 2013 report, the workers were abruptly sent to a new "Midwest Field Office" in Detroit. Those who didn't comply were fired. The report depicts Renne as a major force in the alleged discrimination, ProPublica says.

The report goes on to say the employees were targeted for no legitimate reason and states "facts which reflect that Mr. Bloch and Mr. Renne may have been motivated in their actions by a negative personal attitude toward homosexuality and individuals whose orientation is homosexual."

Shortly after he was hired to the Bush administration, Renne reportedly helped remove language from the agency's website regarding job protections covering sexual orientation, according to the report cited by ProPublica.

"Mr. Renne was depicted as intently searching the OSC website with the assistance of a senior career official to identify passages which interpreted [the nondiscrimination law] as extending protection to employees on the basis of their sexual orientation," the report reads. "According to this account, Mr. Renne demanded that OSC's information technology manager remove these materials from the website immediately."

The same report also claims "crude and vulgar messages containing anti-homosexual themes" in Bloch's office emails were discovered. The also mentioned his predecessor, Elaine Kaplan, calling her a "lesbian activist," a "public lesbian," and a "well-known gay activist."

Bloch told ProPublica the report is "filled with untruth, outright falsehoods and innuendo." When the report, which was based on interview with more than 60 people and an examination of more than 10,000 emails, was released in 2013, Bloch denied he ever talked about targeting gay workers.

The targeted workers settled out of court but the terms were not made public.

Click here to read ProPublica's full article and here on the 2013 report.


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