Chief of the United States Forest Service Resigns Over Sexual Misconduct: Who Was Tony Tooke?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Tony Tooke

Another week, another Trump administration official resigns amid serious allegations of misconduct. Tony Tooke, who succeeded Tom Tidwell as chief of the Forest Service in September 2017, resigned March 7, 2018, after news surfaced of an investigation into complaints of pervasive sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation against those who reported it. The probe by the U.S. Department of Agriculture also includes claims of sexual misconduct against Tooke himself, including at least one apparently consensual relationship with a subordinate before he became chief. The Washington Post also reported that Tooke is alleged to have offered a job to a woman with whom he was having an affair, and later threatened her with retaliation if she revealed their relationship.


Born circa 1962 to Lyndon C. and Annie Mae Tooke, Tony Tooke grew up on a 200-acre farm near Detroit, Alabama. Tooke began his career in the U.S. Forest Service in 1980, at the age of 18, working in the National Forests in Mississippi. He earned a B.S. in Forestry at Mississippi State University in 1983, and kept right on working at the Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


In 1993 Tooke became a Forest Service line officer, and later a silviculturalist (one who is responsible for timber harvesting and reforestation). He eventually became a forester at six Ranger Districts, including in Kentucky and Mississippi. He was promoted to district ranger at the Talladega National Forest in Alabama, the Oconee National Forest in Georgia, and the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi. After that, he served as deputy forest supervisor for the National Forests in Florida.


In September 2006, Tooke began his first position in Washington, DC, as assistant director for forest management, where he focused on ecological restoration, climate change, and integrative vegetation management. From March to December 2009, he served as deputy director for economic recovery. In January 2010, he became director for Ecosystem Management Coordination, where he managed the lands and resources of the National Forest System.


Tooke became associate deputy chief for the National Forest System, with oversight of Lands and Realty, Minerals and Geology, Ecosystem Management Coordination, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, the National Partnership Office, and Business Administration and Support Services. After that, Tooke was named regional forester for the Forest Service’s Southern Region, headquartered in Atlanta.

Tony Tooke is married to Ginger (Davis) Tooke, with whom he has two children, Chelsie and Corey.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Forest Service Chief Resigns in Wake of Sexual Misconduct Allegations (by Catherine Boudreau, Politico)

With Tooke’s Resignation, Scandal Continues to Burn the U.S. Forest Service (by Darryl Fears, Washington Post)

Tony Tooke, Head of U.S. Forest Service, Stepping Down amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations (by Elizabeth Flock and Erica R. Hendry, NPR)

Tony Tooke Appointed U.S. Forest Service Chief (by Rich Landers, Spokane Spokesman-Review)


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