Sam Brinton, a former nuclear waste official in the Energy Department, was fired by the agency amid two situations surfacing of Brinton allegedly nabbing baggage at two airports. Several members of the House GOP told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday that the Energy Department made a glaring mistake employing Brinton in the first place — labeling the January appointment as an example of the administration’s left-wing social justice agenda.
“This guy has been an embarrassment, quite honestly,” said Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX). “What is he, a child? A juvenile delinquent? It’s embarrassing for the United States of America.”
“You just have to look at this and say to yourself, is this the best we have?” asked Nehls. “Or is this a statement being made by the administration to show the American people that they’re very inclusive?”
Brinton, a biological male who identifies as nonbinary, was the first nonbinary person to work as a top Energy Department official. The former official, who went to graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was in charge of roughly 100 staff members and oversaw a $45 million budget.
In the past, conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have criticized the Energy Department for hiring Brinton. That criticism ramped up following court documents showing that, on Sept. 16, Brinton allegedly stole a suitcase at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with items worth an estimated $2,325.
While traveling to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, Brinton was allegedly spotted with the suitcase, investigators said. Brinton was charged with felony theft and faced up to five years’ imprisonment — then, the official was put on leave from the Energy Department.
“I’m incredibly concerned about the Biden administration’s obsession with prioritizing wokeness over competence, which is exactly what happened in the case of Sam Brinton,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) told the Washington Examiner. “I hope the administration finally realizes that employing individuals in the name of achieving woke milestones will ultimately lead to nothing but embarrassment and failure.”
Brinton has also been charged with felony grand larceny and faces up to 10 years in jail in connection to an alleged theft in Nevada. In July, the former official allegedly stole luggage at the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas estimated to hold up to $3,500 worth of items.
“Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee,” a spokesperson for the agency told the Washington Examiner. “By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters.”
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) told the Washington Examiner he is “concerned” that the Biden administration is hiring a “gaggle of woke, unelected officials.”
“The Biden administration will do anything and everything to protect their own, including prioritizing wokeness over real qualifications,” said Norman. “Amidst a national energy crisis, we need the most experienced and capable experts to influence our energy sector.”
Republican concerns about Brinton’s level of expertise for the Energy Department role were echoed all the way back in February.
That month, an unnamed Energy Department official wrote a letter to the agency’s inspector general questioning whether Brinton was qualified for the senior role. The unnamed official said in the letter that Brinton “has no prior federal government experience, no executive management or operations experience, training or skills” to fulfill the job.
“It strains credibility that Sam Brinton was the most qualified expert in the field of nuclear waste,” Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) told the Washington Examiner. “Clearly, the Biden administration is giving preferences based on sexual preference.”
“I think the Biden administration can pretty clearly be called the affirmative action administration,” Grothman added. “Perhaps the delayed firing is an example of a preference.”