BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke stepping down as he faces an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct. (all times local):
Lawmakers in Congress are calling for a hearing and investigation into sexual harassment at the U.S. Forest Service following the departure of its chief amid sexual misconduct allegations.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana said Thursday he is calling for a congressional hearing, saying that he wants to ensure “bad actors are held accountable.”
Daines says Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke made the right decision to retire, days after it was revealed by PBS NewsHour that Tooke allegedly had relationships with former subordinates and was under investigation. The move followed reports in recent years of rampant harassment within the agency.
Rep. Jackie Speier of California, a Democrat and leading voice in Congress against sex harassment, called for a broad investigation of the Forest Service’s “toxic culture” by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke has stepped down after an investigation was launched into sexual misconduct allegations against him.
A Forest Service spokesman on Thursday confirmed Tooke’s sudden retirement just seven months after he took over an agency that has been rocked over the past two years by reports of rampant sexual harassment.
His departure comes less than a week after PBS NewsHour reported Tooke was under investigation following relationships with subordinates before he became chief.
In a Wednesday night email to Forest Service employees, Tooke said he had cooperated with the investigation. He did not directly deny the allegations but said he “cannot combat every inaccuracy that is reported.”
The Forest Service oversees 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 43 states and Puerto Rico.