Sam Brinton, a former Biden administration official, is scheduled to appear in a Minnesota court today, Wednesday, Feb. 15, on a charge of felony theft of a movable property without consent. Brinton allegedly stole an expensive suitcase from an airport last September.
If convicted on the charge, Brinton, who previously served as deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, could face up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
The first out nonbinary federal government appointee, Brinton is accused of stealing a woman’s luggage worth $2,325 from the baggage claim area at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sept. 16.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County court, Brinton allegedly removed the woman’s bag from the luggage carousel, removed the bag’s tag, and left the airport with the luggage in tow.
Records from Brinton’s American Airlines flight confirmed that they had not checked a bag when departing from Washington, D.C.
The victim in the case was shown surveillance footage of the suspect, later identified as Brinton, and confirmed that the bag shown being stolen was hers.
Two days later, Brinton flew back to D.C. and checked the bag, claiming it as their own. They later used the bag again when flying to Europe in early October.
When police confronted Brinton about having the stolen suitcase in their possession, Brinton initially denied taking the bag from the luggage carousel, but later contacted the officer, claiming they had mistakenly taken the suitcase.
Then, fearing accusations of having stolen the suitcase, they claimed to have left the owner’s clothes and other property in the hotel room while retaining the bag. No such property was ever recovered from the hotel.
Brinton was charged in October and was slated to appear in court on Dec. 19, but their initial hearing was delayed to Feb. 15 at the request of their defense counsel, reports Fox News.
Brinton’s lawyers have filed multiple requests to have them attend the hearing remotely, arguing that their client is dealing with “employment issues” and noting that the case has garnered significant media attention.
Judge Gina Brandt rejected those requests: “The current District Policy does not allow for remote appearances to be conducted for Felony 1st Appearances on the Property Drug Calendar with the only exception given to inmates in the custody of the Department of Corrections of the State of Minnesota. Therefore, I must deny your request again.”
Following media coverage of the charges against Brinton in Minnesota, police in Las Vegas recognized them as the person seen on surveillance footage stealing a bag worth $3,670 from the Harry Reid International Airport in July.
Nevada investigators subsequently filed separate theft charges, which could carry up to a 10-year prison sentence, against Brinton. In December, Brinton appeared at a court hearing in Clark County, Nevada, where they were booked and released on $15,000 bail.
The Department of Energy announced on Dec. 12 that Brinton no longer worked for the agency, but declined to comment on the reason for their departure, citing department policy refusing comment on personnel matters.
Congressional Republicans — already worked into a fervor as part of the party’s ongoing efforts to use LGBTQ issues as a cudgel to attack Democrats as out of touch and subservient to “special interests” — have weaponized Brinton’s employment and the security clearance given as part of their job, using it to attack the Biden administration and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for failing to sufficiently vet Brinton.
Brinton’s background has also been raised as a possible red flag by Joseph Nicolosi, a licensed therapist and conversion therapy advocate who is the founder of the Reintegrative Therapy Association, who claims that Brinton’s past advocacy against conversion therapy — centered largely around their own experience with the therapy — raised questions and should have been looked at skeptically.
Wayne Besen, an LGBTQ activist and opponent of conversion therapy who is the founder of Truth Wins Out, which fights against right-wing, anti-LGBTQ movements, including the push for conversion therapy, expressed similar concerns.
Besen wrote an op-ed in which he said that Brinton’s personal story was “too good to be true,” and that those who elevated them and their story in order to push for bans on conversion therapy — which most mainstream medical organizations do agree is harmful — did more to damage the credibility of the pro-LGBTQ movement.
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