Gianforte Investigates Small Businesses' Claims of Abuse, Harassment by Federal Official
Washington, D.C. – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte had a reassuring word today for Bart Riley, the owner of Riley’s Meats in Butte.
“We’ll pursue this. We’ll get to the bottom of this,” Gianforte told the small business owner.
Riley’s business, as well as others, has been the target of harassment by a supervisor for a federal agency.
Gianforte met with Riley to hear the story firsthand. He was joined by John Truzzolino, owner of Truzzolino Tamales, who claims his business was also a target of Dr. Jeffrey Legg. Legg is a front-line supervisor for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Earlier this week Gianforte called for an investigation into the misconduct of Legg, who has allegedly been abusing his power and targeting Montana family businesses with so-called “Legg’s Regs.” That’s a term coined by some small business owners to describe Legg’s costly, self-created mandates, which are not part of the federal regulatory code, but which Legg imposes on businesses at his own discretion. When business owners file complaints with the USDA, Legg retaliates against them.
“I appreciate Congressman Gianforte being here today. It’s great to have someone finally listen, because it’s been going on for so long,” said Riley. “Legg has never been held accountable to anybody. He just does what he wants. I can’t keep fighting it by myself. I need to have somebody on my side.”
“I’ve seen it over the past 10, 12 years. It’s 100 percent harassment,” Truzzolino said, speaking of the actions Legg has taken against Riley’s Meats. “It’s gotten to the point where Bart doesn’t want to come to work anymore. He wants to close his shop,” said Truzzolino, who purchases product from Riley’s Meats for his tamale business. “Bart does such a great job. He makes our lives easier.”
Gainforte toured Riley’s Meats and Truzzolino Tamales today in the mining city as part of his own investigation into the owners’ claims.
“This is an example of federal overreach and abuse of power,” Gianforte said. “USDA has looked into it, has admitted that harassment occurred, and yet has done nothing about it. I intend to press for answers.”
“Montana’s small businesses deserve better. Bart Riley, John Truzzolino, and their families deserve better,” Gianforte said.
“I won't stop until this is fixed,” Gianforte vowed to Riley and Truzzolino.