Sam Brinton: Top Department of Energy official no longer working after luggage theft allegations


The Department of Energy official in charge of nuclear fuel and radioactive waste is no longer employed by the federal agency after two alleged airport baggage theft incidents, according to local reports and court records.

Sam Brinton, the former deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste at the Nuclear Energy Administration, was indicted in December for grand theft in Nevada. Brinton was accused of stealing luggage from Harry Reid International Airport, according to a KLAS report.

“Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee. By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters,” a department spokesman said.

Brinton was previously charged with theft in Minnesota for allegedly taking another passenger’s hard-sided suitcase from the baggage carousel of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport after a flight in September.

When contacted by a Minnesota police officer, Brinton initially denied taking the luggage, but later called and apologized for not being “completely honest,” according to the criminal complaint.

Brinton admitted taking the bag but stated they were tired and took the suitcase thinking it was theirs, according to the complaint.

Their first appearance in the case in Minnesota is scheduled for February 2023.

A White House spokesman emphasized to CNN that Brinton was not appointed by the White House.

“They are a career civil service employee, and in accordance with how personnel actions are managed for the nearly 2 million civil service employees in the federal government, I must direct you to [the Department of Energy] for more information,” the official added.

CNN has reached out to Brinton for comment. The Daily Beast reported earlier regarding Brinton’s employment status.

Before joining the Department of Energy, Brinton worked at several think tanks, including the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Breakthrough Institute, and Third Way. Brinton is an LGBTQ advocate and an outspoken activist against conversion therapy. They also worked with the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention among the LGBTQ community, to launch a campaign to ban conversion therapy nationwide.

This summer, Brinton tweeted“It’s official. As of June 19, I now serve my nation as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Spent Fuel and Waste Disposal in the Office of Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy.

In the same Twitter thread, Brinton said they delayed announcing the news after receiving “over a hundred death threats and more hate than I could ever imagine.”

Earlier this month, a group of Republican members of Congress issued a a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm requesting Brinton’s resignation.

The 16 signatories claim that Brinton “was placed on leave without providing key context clarifying that Brinton’s recent employment status was the result of a felony charge.”

They called on Granholm to “set aside petty politics and appoint only the most qualified and dedicated individuals to influence America’s energy sector.” But the letter’s lead signer, Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia, suggested on Twitter, without evidence, that Brinton’s hiring in a non-political federal role was part of the Biden administration’s effort to prioritize “waking up.” Additional tweets pious Clyde ignores Brinton.

“I hope this fiasco will make the Biden administration think twice before again prioritizing vigilance over competence,” Clyde tweeted on Monday.

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