WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) today released the following statement after U.S. Forest Service (FS) Chief Tony Tooke announced his resignation following allegations of misconduct. Tooke’s announcement comes after reports revealed numerous incidents of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct within the agency.
“The toxic culture that has festered and spread throughout the Forest Service, plaguing countless women who have suffered catastrophic retaliation for daring to speak out about abuses that range from harassment to full-scale assaults, must end. The resignation of Chief Tooke amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with subordinates is an important first step in the fight for justice for these brave individuals. It’s clear, however, that the USDA Inspector General and the Forest Service is a long way away from curing this cultural rot,” Rep Speier said. “These women have dreamed of working in the Forest Service their whole lives. They have literally laid their lives on the line to protect our national forests and grasslands. They deserve to be heard, to be believed, and to be supported. And they and every other woman working in America deserves the chance to pursue their career dreams in an environment devoid of abuse and retaliation. Nothing less is acceptable.”
Congresswoman Speier has been calling for reform in the Forest Service since 2014, when she requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General (Ag OIG) initiate an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct and retaliation in Region 5 (California). After bipartisan and bicameral calls for reform and a 2016 hearing in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Ag OIG is due to release an audit at the end of April.