Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 15, 2022
By Gabe Kaminsky, Washington Examiner
A top Republican lawmaker is demanding the Energy Department initiate an internal security clearance investigation on the heels of the agency firing Sam Brinton, the nonbinary former nuclear waste official who was fired amid charges of grand larceny and felony theft.
“Felons should not be entrusted with security clearances,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chairman of the Senate GOP Conference, told the Washington Examiner.
“Secretary Granholm has provided no answers to questions about the failed security clearance process,” the senator added. “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.”
Barrasso’s investigative demand comes after the Biden administration said on Monday that it fired Brinton — a biological male who identifies as nonbinary and was the first purported nonbinary person to work as a top Energy Department official.
Brinton allegedly stole a suitcase at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with items worth an estimated $2,325 and another suitcase at the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas estimated to hold up to $3,500 worth of items, according to the Justice Department. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
“Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee,” a spokesperson for the agency previously told the Washington Examiner. “By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters.”
Brinton was appointed in January to his role, which involved overseeing 100 staff members and a $45 million budget.
Barrasso, in July, demanded answers from Granholm about the Energy Department’s process for both dishing out security clearances and vetting officials for them. The senator has since sent two follow-up letters to Granholm on the issue — with the last one dated Friday.
“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,” wrote the senator. “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.”
House Republicans told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday that Brinton should never have been hired in the first place and appears to have just been a diversity hire who was unqualified.
Read more at the Washington Examiner.