The Biden Administration has come under fire after Energy Department official Sam Brinton, who identifies as nonbinary, was charged in two separate instances of stealing suitcases at U.S. airports—with one bag reportedly containing $3,670 in jewelry, clothing and makeup—as GOP officials blame Biden’s “wokeness” for hiring them.
Brinton, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy’s Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition, was charged last month with felony theft and placed on leave after police claim Brinton stole a woman’s Vera Bradley suitcase at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in September—Brinton initially denied taking the suitcase but later admitted they mistook it for their own.
A felony arrest warrant was issued for Brinton on grand larceny charges on Friday after they were accused of stealing luggage at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That suitcase included $1,700 worth of jewelry, $850 worth of clothing and $500 in makeup, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Fox News reported.
In a tweet on Friday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called Brinton “a person clearly unfit for a high-level national security role,” accusing the Biden Administration of hiring Brinton because it “prioritizes wokeness over competence.”
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) called on Brinton to be fired and their security clearance revoked “IMMEDIATELY.”
The far-right social media account Libs of TikTok—which has been accused of spreading anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theories including the debunked “furries” theory that children identify as animals in school—attacked Brinton for wearing women’s clothing and engaging in “pup play” in addition to stealing luggage.
A group of House Republicans including Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) sent a letter on Tuesday to the Energy Department urging Brinton to resign, telling the department to “set aside petty politics and appoint only the most qualified and dedicated individuals to influence America’s energy sector.”
The Department of Energy told Forbes it takes the accusation “very seriously,” but would not go into details on Brinton’s case—although generally speaking, department officials charged with a crime are put under review, which could result in a suspension or revocation of their clearance.
Brinton, who identifies with they/them pronouns, is the first openly gender fluid employee in the federal government. According to multiple polls over the past five years, Americans have been divided along partisan and age lines over their acceptance of people who identify as transgender or gender fluid, with Republicans tending to favor more traditional gender-based definitions. A 2017 Pew Research poll found 32% of U.S. adults believe society has “gone too far in accepting transgender people,” including 57% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats. A follow-up Pew Research poll in June found 60% of Americans believe gender is determined by the sex people are assigned at birth, including 86% of Republicans and 38% of Democrats. Nearly two-thirds of respondents 65 years and older agreed, compared to half of people ages 18-29. GOP lawmakers have also proposed a series of laws targeting LGBTQ education and trans access in school bathrooms and on sports teams. One of the most high-profile was Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity through the third grade. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the bill into law in May. In June, Greene, an outspoken proponent of traditional social values who has come down hard on LGBTQ rights, called for an end of Pride Month—which celebrates LGBTQ people. A series of GOP-funded attack ads leading up to the midterm elections last month targeted Democrats for expanding healthcare access to trans people.
What To Watch For
Brinton, 34, is set to appear in court on Dec. 19, where they face felony charges from the Minneapolis theft allegation punishable by up to five years and prison and a fine of up to $10,000.