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You didn't bother to ask!': Trey Gowdy rips official for ignoring sexual harassment at EPA

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Thursday slammed a senior Environmental Protection Agency official for apparently doing nothing after getting several reports that another EPA worker had several sexual harassment complaints against him from female employees.

John Reeder, deputy chief of staff at the EPA, appeared at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing about the EPA's failure to control an EPA official who had more than a dozen complaints against him. Peter Jutro, the former acting associate administrator for the EPA's Office of Homeland Security, was named in an inspector general report that documented these sexual harassment claims.

On Thursday, Gowdy asked Reeder several times why he wasn't aware of any of the harassment allegations against Jutro before he was took the job.

"Do you know why you weren't aware of that?" Gowdy asked Reeder.

"I don't know, why?" Reeder said.

"Because you didn't bother to ask Mr. Jutro's supervisor when you were doing his background check. He knew about it, but you didn't bother to ask him."

Gowdy recounted several cases in which Reeder failed to investigate anything related to Jutro's background. That assessment was backed up by Patrick Sullivan of the Inspector General's office, who said Reeder should have been aware of some of these allegations before Jutro was hired.

Sullivan said of the supervisor who knew about Jutro's activities, "he was never contacted." The last sexual harassment incident happened last summer.

Jutro was allowed to retire from the EPA before he could be fired, demoted, fined or reprimanded.

The committee has been after several agencies for failing to fire anyone for any reason. "I want you to fire these people who are sexually harassing people at work," Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said.

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