WASHINGTON — The top Republican on the Senate committee that oversees the Energy Department is demanding a “comprehensive review” of security clearance processes for nuclear officials after one of the department’s leaders was charged with stealing an expensive piece of luggage from an airport.

Sam Brinton, the deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition, faces a felony theft charge for allegedly stealing a $2,325 Vera Bradley suitcase on Sept. 16 from the baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Brinton, 34, is a MIT-educated nuclear engineer best known for being the most prominent government official to self-identify as non-binary, meaning neither male or female.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo), the ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, sent a letter Tuesday to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm expressing concern about the security of US nuclear energy technology.

“It is in the interest of both the Department’s mission and our national security that the Deputy Assistant Secretary’s clearance be immediately revoked,” Barrasso wrote. “Additionally, the Department should undertake all necessary steps to terminate their employment immediately,”

Sam Brinton.
Sam Brinton allegedly stole a $2,325 Vera Bradley suitcase on Sept. 16.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Barrasso previously expressed concern about the department’s security-clearance review in a July 20 letter to Granholm.

“The Department’s inability to respond to my concerns regarding the DOE’s clearance process is indicative of an egregious inattention to potential insider threats within the Department and the greater safety of the American public,” he wrote Tuesday.

“Accordingly, I am requesting that you immediately launch a comprehensive review of the Department’s security clearance adjudication process and report to me the findings no later than February 1, 2023.”

Brinton is a nuclear engineer and one of the highest-profile US officials to identify as non-binary, meaning neither male or female.
Sam Brinton/Instagram

Brinton was hired by the Energy Department in January after previously working as director of legislative affairs for nuclear waste storage company Deep Isolation.

Brinton, who uses they/them pronouns, previously garnered public attention for campaigning against “conversion therapy,” the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

After allegedly stealing the bag, Brinton was seen on surveillance footage removing the owner’s ID tag before reusing the luggage. Court documents say Britton was spotted with the bag in Washington, DC, on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9.

The Energy Department supervises the nuclear energy industry, which produces roughly one-fifth of US electricity.
The Energy Department supervises the nuclear energy industry, which produces roughly one-fifth of US electricity.
AP

Brinton initially denied stealing the suitcase to police officers, but later claimed they took it by mistake.

The Energy Department reportedly placed Brinton on leave last month in response to the theft allegation, which became public this week. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Barrasso’s letter.



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