Official who purged gay employees in Bush White House gets job with Trump
A Bush administration official involved in purging employees because of their sexuality has been hired to Trump’s administration.
James Renne was reportedly involved in a major scandal during the Bush administration, in which government employees were targetted due to their suspected sexual orientation.
Top officials at an agency dedicated to protecting whistleblowers, the Office of Special Counsel, ordered employees suspected to be LGBT to move to a new office in Detroit, 500 miles away.
If they refused they were fired from their jobs.
A boss at the Office of Special Counsel was also found to have vile anti-gay slurs on his email server.
Now Mr Renne, one of the key players in the scandal according to ProPublica, has been appointed to Trump’s administration.
He first joined the Trump team during the transition stages, as part of a so-called “landing team”, at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
He was then given a permenant and senior role at the Department of Agriculture following the inauguraton of Trump.
Mr Renne was one of the very first political appointees of the administration, placed in the “beachhead teams”, whose role is to lay the groundwork for the new administration’s policies.
The move back into the heart of government is an extraordinary turnaround for the Bush era official.
In 2004 he was appointed as deputy special counsel of the Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency tasked with protecting employees across government from retaliation for whistleblowing.
Shortly after he was hired, language stating that discrimination protections extend to sexual orientation disappeared from the agency’s website.
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Employees began to complain of being improperly fired and file complaints.
One consultant, retired Lt. Gen. Richard Trefry, who was tasked with opening the Detroit office, told investigators: “Mr. Bloch indicated to General Trefry that there was a sizeable group of homosexuals employed by OSC, which had developed during the years prior to his taking office, that he “had a license” to get rid of homosexual employees, and that he intended to “ship them out.”
A report from the Office of the Inspector General, published in 2013, lists Renne and his colleague, Scott Bloch, as central players in the scandal.
The report said: “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.
“According to this account, Mr. Renne demanded that OSC’s information technology manager remove these materials from the website immediately.”
Renne did not respond to requests for comment from US outlet ProPublica, nor did the Department of Agriculture, which hired him, offer to comment.