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Trump Hires Bush-Era Official Who Led a Gay Purge

James Renne

James Renne was a key player in a scandalous 2004 purge of gay employees in the Office of Special Counsel.


A Bush-era official accused of spearheading a witch hunt against LGBT employees is now working for the Trump administration.

James Renne was hired January 30 for a senior post in the Department of Agriculture, ProPublica has learned through a public records request.

This is not Renne's first government job. In 2004 he was hired by the Bush administration as a special deputy counsel in the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency whose primary objective is to safeguard "whisteblowing" employees from reprisal.

Renne's legacy from that role is not protecting whistleblowers. During his tenure, employees complained they were improperly fired or dislocated from the office due to their sexual orientation. A report from the inspector general listed damning evidence that Renne and his superior Scott Bloch actively pursued this end.

The report noted that Renne and Bloch devised a plan to remove career employees. The pair created a Midwest Field Office in Detroit and requested that select workers relocate there. If the employees refused, they were terminated.

Judging by those chosen for relocation and other evidence gathered, "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," the report concluded.

Additional evidence of bias included a letter the pair had signed in 2000 from Concerned Catholic Attorneys, attacking LGBT rights and bemoaning that the "homosexual lobby's power has grown exponentially." An analysis of over 100,000 emails also unearthed evidence of antigay slurs and sentiment.

And the targeting of LGBT employees didn't end with relocation. The report detailed how Renne ordered an IT manager to scrub language from the Office of Special Counsel's website that said workers would be protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

This deletion sparked years of congressional investigations. Eventually, the employees reached a settlement with the government. Renne pleaded guilty on a misdemeanor charge for hiring a tech company to erase his work computers.

The Department of Agriculture has not commented on Renne's hiring. His duties there are not clear. Previously, in December, Renne was appointed as a member of a Trump transition team in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.