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Ex-Biden nuclear waste official facing up to five years in prison over theft charges

By Sarah May
|
February 16, 2023

Former Biden Energy Department official, Sam Brinton, who stands accused of stealing luggage in two separate airport incidents, appeared in a Minnesota courtroom on Wednesday on one set of felony theft charges and was released without bail, as Fox News reports.

Brinton was ordered not to have any contact with the alleged victims in a case that could yield up to five years in prison if a conviction is obtained, according to the New York Post.

Minneapolis misappropriation

Troubles for Brinton, the non-binary, onetime deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition in the Biden administration, have been mounting ever since his apparent penchant for stealing fellow air travelers' luggage was discovered by law enforcement authorities.

According to the Minnesota criminal complaint, after his arrival at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport on Sept. 16 of last year, Brinton removed a luggage tag from another passenger's luggage and departed the building with it, walking off with items later valued at $2,325, as the Daily Mail noted.

It was later confirmed by American Airlines that Brinton had not checked any baggage of his own on the flight from the nation's capital, and the alleged victim in the case identified the luggage he took from the airport as hers after she was shown video footage of the exit from the facility.

As bizarre as those circumstances are, it soon emerged that the Minneapolis scenario was not the only time Brinton had helped himself to someone else's baggage at an airport.

Las Vegas larceny

Due in large part to news coverage of the claims against Brinton in Minnesota, authorities in Las Vegas leveled yet another accusation of nearly identical conduct said to have occurred back in July at Harry Reid International Airport, as the Post reported separately.

According to a police report filed in Nevada, a female traveler headed to Las Vegas from Washington, D.C. indicated that a piece of luggage she had checked with the airline prior to departure had gone missing. Airport security footage subsequently revealed “a white male adult wearing a white T-shirt with a large rainbow-colored atomic nuclear symbol design” walking off with a bag that fit the description of the woman's property.

Once media reports concerning the allegations against Brinton in Minnesota began to make headlines, Las Vegas authorities “immediately recognized” the flamboyant, sometimes-drag queen and LGBTQ activist, as the suspect from their own video footage, and they set about confirming that he had indeed been on the July 6 flight at issue.

Perhaps helping seal his fate in the Nevada case was the additional discovery by law enforcement of an Instagram post from Brinton featuring a selfie in which he was wearing the easily recognizable rainbow-themed atomic T-shirt, as Fox News noted.

Dramatic downfall

In the immediate aftermath of reporting on the Minneapolis incident, Brinton was placed on leave from his high-paying Energy Department position, but it did not take long for lawmakers to demand either his resignation or his ouster, as the Washington Examiner noted at the time.

A group of 15 Republican legislators sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stating, “As an appointed official, Sam Brinton represents both your Department and the United States. It is simply not possible for an individual to represent American values and simultaneously violate the felony laws of the land.”

Republican Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) opined in December, “The reported details of Sam Brinton's thievery are bizarre and disturbing. Americans deserve transparency about who and what their taxpayer dollars are funding.”

With the release of a vague Energy Department astatement that read, “Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee,” whether he was ultimately fired or resigned on his own volition is unknown. Despite rampant curiosity about the details of his departure, the agency added, “[b]y law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters,” as CNN reported at the time.

No comment

Appearing in Minneapolis this week sporting an eye-catching red suit, Brinton offered no comment when peppered with questions by photojournalist Rebecca Brannon, who also captured footage of the accused thief as he left the courthouse.

“Why would you want some lady's dirty clothes?” Brannon inquired, to no response from Brinton, according to the Mail.

Another bystander asked Brinton if he was in the North Star State for a job interview with far-left Gov. Tim Walz.

Though the utterly strange circumstances surrounding the allegations against Brinton have provided voluminous fodder for jokes – as well as for deeper criticism of the Biden administration's heavy emphasis on identity politics in hiring – the accusations against Brinton are no laughing matter, as he faces upwards of five years in prison in the Minnesota case and up to ten in the Nevada matter.