Press Releases

Grothman Questions Forest Service on Its Incompetency Addressing Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination

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Washington, December 1, 2016 | Bernadette Green ((202) 225-2476) | comments

(Washington, D.C.) -- Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) today questioned officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) about sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the U.S. Forest Service during a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing.

USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Joe Leonard, Jr., U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief of Business Operations Lenise Lago and Vice President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees/Federal Employee Advocate Lesa Donnelly testified at the hearing. Denise Rice, a fire prevention technician for the USDA, was also a witness. Ms. Rice shared her experience of being sexually harassed while working for the agency.

Excerpts of Grothman’s remarks:

“Ms. Donnelly, can you let us know whether you feel there’s been improvement over the last eight years, as you compare the current environment at the Forest Service today compared to eight years ago?”

“Under the current Ag secretary, under the current administration, as bad as things were in 2008, things have gotten even worse, even more callous, even more ‘who cares?’?

“Just when you think the government can’t get any worse, they get worse. But could you give me some other examples of cases that you’d like to tell this committee about?”

Click here to view Grothman’s full remarks.


Under the Obama Administration, incidences of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the USDA have increased.

The Forest Service has been found to be severely mismanaged and incompetent, with perpetrators of sexual harassment and gender discrimination going unpunished and victims often fearing retaliation for filing complaints.

The Forest Service has asked Congress to make it easier for the agency to fire federal employees who commit acts of sexual harassment or gender discrimination.


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