- The Washington Times
Friday, December 2, 2022

Senior Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee are not ready to call for the dismissal of Sam Brinton, who was heralded as the first gender-fluid person with a high-ranking federal post but now faces felony charges for stealing designer luggage at a Minneapolis airport.

Still, Energy Committee Chairman Joseph Manchin III said Brinton, who is head of nuclear waste at the Department of Energy, is in “big trouble” because the case looks pretty “clear-cut.”

Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, told the Washington Times that if Brinton is convicted of the felony theft charges, he obviously would lose his job as the head of spent nuclear fuel management at DOE.

Video surveillance footage from Sept. 16 showed Brinton removing a woman’s hard-sided Vera Bradley roller suitcase worth about $2,000 from the baggage claim area at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Brinton claimed not to know about the bag but later told authorities to have taken it by accident, only to realize that it belonged to another person.

“Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, but if he‘s convicted of what he‘s done, he‘s gone,” Mr. Manchin said. “Here’s the thing. It sounds to me like it’s a pretty clear-cut case and he‘s in big trouble. … The bottom line is you commit a felony, and you work with top secret clearance, you’re gone.”

Energy Committee member Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, said Brinton having a high level of security clearance “is obviously of concern.”

“The last time I heard you’re innocent until proven guilty in the United States. So let’s see what the facts are,” he said.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the committee, called for Brinton‘s termination from his job in a letter this week to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

“It is in the interest of both the Department’s mission and our national security that the Deputy Assistant Secretary’s clearance be immediately revoked,” Mr. Barrasso wrote. “Additionally, the Department should undertake all necessary steps to terminate their employment immediately.”

An Energy Department spokesman previously stated Brinton is on leave pending a Dec. 19 hearing in Hennepin County, Minnesota, on felony theft charges.

Brinton was hired to serve as deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition in the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy. He started the job in June amid an outcry about his social media posts displaying his sexual fetishes.

One post showing Brinton standing over a man donning a dog collar and leash quickly went viral, as did pictures of Brinton wearing pink stilettos and sporting a red mohawk haircut.

On his first day at DOE, Brinton posted an in-office image of himself on Twitter wearing a red jumpsuit, bright lipstick and stiletto pumps wrapped with the Stars and Stripes.

“As one of, if not the very first openly genderfluid individuals in federal government leadership, I was welcomed with open arms into the Department of Energy all the way up to the Secretary whom I shared the stage with in a Pride month celebration panel just today,” Brinton tweeted. “I intend to be serving my country in this role through many many presidencies.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sen. Joe Manchin‘s last name on one reference.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.