The Department of Energy confirmed that Sam Brinton, an official responsible for nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, has been terminated from the agency after allegedly stealing airport baggage twice, CNN reports. Brinton, a longtime LGBTQ rights activist, made history as the first openly non-binary senior government official.
"Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee. By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters," a spokesperson told reporters.
Brinton worked in the Office of Nuclear Energy as the deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition until they were charged with the two thefts. In December, they were charged with grand larceny in Nevada after being accused of stealing luggage from Harry Reid International Airport in July, per CNN. They were previously charged in September with a similar crime in Minnesota after they allegedly stole another passenger's Vera Bradley suitcase off the carousel at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. According to the criminal complaint, Briton initially denied taking the bag when contacted by Minnesota police but later called back to apologize for not being "completely honest," per NBC news.
Before the news that Brinton had been fired, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and 15 other House Republicans sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urging her to demand Brinton's resignation. The letter alleges that Brinton"was placed on leave without providing crucial context clarifying that Brinton's recent employment status was the result of a felony charge."
On Twitter, Clyde suggested that Brinton's hiring was a part of Biden's agenda to prioritize "wokeness." "I hope this fiasco makes the Biden Administration think twice before prioritizing wokeness above competence again," Clyde tweeted in response to the news.