GOP demand answers from Energy Department following belated firing of senior leader Sam Brinton over felony charges

Sam Brinton, formerly a celebrated top official in President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy, was finally fired this week after it was revealed that he’d been charged with felony crimes in two separate incidents involving the theft of luggage at airports.

Now Republicans in both the Senate and House are demanding investigations and answers into why it took so long for Brinton to be fired, how he was able to obtain a top security clearance, and how he managed to be hired over others in the first place, the Washington Examiner reported.

It appears to many that Brinton, heralded as the first openly “non-binary and genderfluid” federal official, was selected for purely political and social reasons, and not merit or qualifications, to serve as the deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition at the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

How was this guy vetted for a security clearance?

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the chairman of the Senate GOP Caucus and ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told the Examiner of Brinton, “Felons should not be entrusted with security clearances.”

“Secretary Granholm has provided no answers to questions about the failed security clearance process,” he said of the head of the DOE. “A thorough investigation of the vetting process is overdue. The Department must also respond to legitimate oversight inquiries. It’s critical to protecting our national security.”

This is not the first time that the Wyoming senator has raised this issue with Energy Sec. Granholm, as Barrasso has sent multiple letters to the secretary with questions about the department’s vetting processes for appointees and security clearances, with the most recent letter being sent just last week.

“As I stated in my last letter, the Deputy Assistant Secretary’s security clearance needs to be immediately revoked, and the Department needs to undertake all necessary steps to terminate Brinton’s employment immediately,” the senator wrote in a letter sent Friday, before Brinton’s removal. “The Department’s failure to remove an individual who has now been charged with multiple felonies from its most senior ranks is shameful, inexplicable, and actively eroding the trust of the public it serves.”

Finally fired after backlash over felony charges

According to the New York Post, Brinton has been charged with felony theft in Minnesota and felony grand larceny in Nevada that, if convicted, could land Brinton behind bars for up to five years and ten years, respectively, plus substantial fines for the two separate criminal incidents.

Both charges relate to Brinton being caught on surveillance cameras stealing the luggage of other individuals from the baggage claim areas in airports, and the alleged thief was only quietly placed on leave following the initial charge but then was fired after the second charge was made public.

“Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee. By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters,” an unnamed DOE spokesperson said in a statement to media outlets on Monday.

Brinton allegedly not qualified for leadership position

Sen. Barrasso is not alone in demanding answers from the DOE about Brinton, as the Examiner reported separately this week that several House Republicans — some of whom had already sent a letter to Sec. Granholm demanding Brinton be fired — have similarly called into question how and why Brinton was hired and granted top security clearances in the first place.

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), who called Brinton an “embarrassment” and likened him to “a child” and “juvenile delinquent,” told the Examiner, “You just have to look at this and say to yourself, is this the best we have? Or is this a statement being made by the administration to show the American people that they’re very inclusive?”

“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), who authored the recent letter to Granholm, also told the 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.”

Nor is it just elected Republicans who have called for investigations, as an unnamed DOE employee sent a letter in February, shortly after Brinton was first appointed, sent a letter to the DOE’s deputy inspector general that questioned the obvious “irregularities” in the appointment and alleged that Brinton “has no prior federal government experience, no executive management or operations experience, training or skills” for his role and was, at best, suitable for a mid-level bureaucratic position instead of a senior leadership position, based on his background of “select advocacy work” and “graduate-degree level” academic achievements.

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