By now, even nuclear-industry professionals who shun the Washington, D.C., beltway may know the name Sam Brinton.
In January, senior agency leadership selected Brinton — a 2013 MIT graduate whose master’s thesis was dedicated to used nuclear fuel storage — to be the Department of Energy’s next deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy.
Yet if industry has heard that news only in passing, we at the Monitor would not be surprised.
That is because Brinton, over the past two weeks, has been the subject of several frantic stories that have the look and feel of scandalous exposés but are really just curations of things Brinton has either put on the internet or allowed someone else to put on the internet.
In these stories, mostly Frankensteins of old images and interviews held together with sinews of sanctimony, readers may learn that Brinton neither identifies nor presents exclusively as male or female, is attracted to males but also at times to females, married a man, occasionally appeared as a drag queen called Sister Ray Dee O’Active and does things outside of work that Christian Grey might call a little kinky.
What readers won’t find in these stories is any call that Brinton is unqualified, on the merits, to serve as a deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Energy.
To find that, you’ll have to read our own reporter Benjamin S. Weiss’ lead story in this week’s RadWaste Monitor.
In Ben’s story, you may learn that at least one DOE employee believes that Brinton is unqualified not to join DOE, but to enter the agency’s ranks as a member of the senior executive service.
Professing insider knowledge of the selection process and citing chapter and verse of federal hiring rules, this unidentified DOE employee asks the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general to investigate whether Brinton was only selected as the Nuclear Energy office’s next rad-waste chief because a senior DOE official engaged in prohibited personnel practices.
Such prohibited practices may include political pressure and discrimination against other candidates for the job — candidates who might have their own enviable academic records, plus years of service at the Department of Energy and practical experience with nuclear operations that Brinton, who has never been a public servant or worked in industry in other than advocacy roles, notably lacks.
At the time of this writing, the anonymous DOE whistleblower’s opinion was the only documented objection to Brinton’s hiring of which we were aware, though doubtless others also object. It ought to be noticed, however, that the whistleblower never argues Brinton should be barred from federal service. In fact, the whistleblower identifies the pay grade at which Brinton might be qualified to work.
To make sure these remarks did not conclude without our saying so, the Exchange Monitor does not endorse anyone’s selection for any position in the federal service, either at DOE or any other agency. We, and everyone else, ought to recognize that those empowered to make such selections are entitled to make their lawful choices, no matter who agrees or or disagrees.
And just as there is no reason that Brinton should be denied the opportunity to serve their country because of their amorous preferences or gender identity — here is as good a place as any to tell you that Brinton prefers to be referred to in the third person singular by the pronouns “they,” “them” and “their,” and so what, in this town of oddball, highfalutin titles if they do? — there is no reason that the inspector general should not investigate the allegations raised against Brinton’s selection and recommend a change of tack at DOE if the allegations are substantiated.