Sam Brinton

Extended-protected article
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sam Brinton
Official portrait, 2022
Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy
In office
June 19, 2022 – December 11, 2022
Succeeded byKim Petry (acting)
Personal details
Samuel Otis Brinton

1986 or 1987 (age 35–36)[1]
OccupationNuclear engineer

Samuel Otis Brinton (born 1986/1987)[1] is an American nuclear engineer and LGBTQ activist. They served as the deputy assistant secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy from June to December 2022.[2][3][4] Brinton is no longer employed by the Office of Nuclear Energy after being charged with luggage theft twice.[4]

Brinton gained media attention in 2010 for their reported experience of conversion therapy,[5] later testifying at the United Nations on the subject in 2014.[6] The gay activist Wayne Besen expressed skepticism about this account; noting that Brinton had claimed to have experienced electroshock therapy, which had not been used for decades, and other alleged inconsistencies.[5]

Brinton was the first openly genderfluid individual in federal government leadership, and uses singular they pronouns.[7]

Early life and education

Brinton was raised in Perry, Iowa and is the child of two Southern Baptist missionaries. Brinton came out as bisexual to their parents in the early 2000s.[8] According to Brinton, they[who?] disapproved of Brinton's attraction to a male friend from school and sent the then-middle school student for conversion therapy, an experience Brinton later described as "barbaric" and "painful" in a New York Times op-ed.[9] During one particularly extreme conversion therapy session, Brinton described being bound to a table while ice, heat, and electricity were applied to their body, all while being forced to watch film clips of gay intimacy.[8]

Brinton has stated that parental physical abuse also became far more common as they began to express their identity. Eventually, Brinton said that after it was clear that conversion therapy had not affected their sexuality, they were effectively disowned by their parents, with their father threatening to shoot Brinton in the head if Brinton ever returned home.[10]

Journalist and gay activist Wayne Besen has expressed skepticism about Brinton's description of experiencing conversion therapy in childhood.[10][5] Besen has noted inconsistencies in Brinton's retelling of events, as well as Brinton's being unable to remember the therapist's name, despite claiming to have had two years of sessions with him.[5] In the aftermath of 2022 allegations of luggage theft against Brinton, Besen reiterated his concerns and accused various people and groups of failing to heed "clear warning signs" and of making decisions to accept Brinton's recounting of such experiences without confirming their veracity as "sloppy, ethically negligent, and shockingly unprofessional" behavior.[11][12]

In 2006 Brinton graduated from Perry High School and in 2011 from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering and vocal music.[13][14] In 2010, while attending the university, Brinton organized its first pride march[15] and helped found Kansas's first LGBT resource center.[16]

In 2013, Brinton graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a dual Master of Science degree in nuclear science and engineering (technology and policy program).[15][13][14]

While at MIT, Brinton cofounded Stand with Science, a national advocacy network aiming to protect federal research funding, which in 2012 under Brinton's leadership petitioned Congress with over 10,000 signatories .[17] In 2014 it was represented in 30 colleges and universities.[18] In 2014, Brinton was its executive director and had the same role in the National Science Policy Group.[19] Brinton is a past president of MIT's Science Policy Initiative.[20]

LGBTQ activism

In November 2014, identifying as a "survivor" of conversion therapy, Brinton was the first such individual to testify before the United Nations Convention against Torture regarding such experiences.[6] Brinton was the advisory committee co-chair of the National Center for Lesbian Rights' #BornPerfect campaign and held the position until at least September 2015.[21] They were one of three grand marshals of the 2015 Boston Pride Parade.[16][22]

Brinton in 2016 founded the #50Bills50States campaign, with the goal of prohibiting the pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy throughout the U.S.[23][24]

In 2016 and 2018, Brinton was the principal officer of the Washington DC chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an LGBTQ charity and human rights group.[25] At events, such as the organization's 40th anniversary, Brinton performed in drag under the name "Sister Ray Dee O'Active".[1][26]

From 2017 to 2020, Brinton was the head of advocacy and government affairs at the non-profit LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project.[27][28]


In 2016, Brinton was a senior policy analyst for the Bipartisan Policy Center, lobbying for updated regulations to make it possible for nuclear waste to be used to power advanced nuclear reactors.[29] In February 2020, the website of Deep Isolation, a Berkeley, California, nuclear waste storage and disposal company,[30] listed Brinton as Director of Legislative Affairs[31][32] and in May 2022 as Director of Global Political Strategy.[33] In 2022, Brinton's profile at the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated previous work with the Breakthrough Institute, the Clean Air Task Force, and Third Way.[3]

Brinton in 2022

In 2022, Brinton became deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition in DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, serving in the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition.[34] South Florida Gay News reported that, according to Brinton, while they were "welcomed with open arms" at all levels of the organization, others reacted to their appointment with hatred and disgust, some making death threats against them.[35][3]

In February 2022, an unidentified Department of Energy employee filed allegations of hiring malpractice with the Office of the Inspector General due to concern regarding Brinton's qualifications for a Senior Executive Service (SES) level position, i.e. "the class of federal career officials who rank just below top presidential appointees in seniority".[34]

Brinton supports the use of interim siting for radioactive waste to determine which sites and storage methods are best suited for future permanent repositories.[36]

In November 2022, Brinton was placed on leave by the Department of Energy after being charged with theft of luggage at an airport.[1][37] On December 12, 2022, after a second similar charge for a July incident, a Department of Energy spokesperson confirmed that Brinton was no longer a DOE employee.[4] Brinton was succeeded by acting deputy assistant secretary Kim Petry.[38]

Luggage thefts

In October 2022, Brinton was charged with felony theft after allegedly stealing a woman's suitcase from a Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport baggage carousel on September 16.[1][38] If Brinton were convicted, these charges could carry a five-year sentence.[39] On February 15, 2023, Brinton appeared in court in Hennepin County, Minnesota, and was released without bail.[40] In April 2023, Brinton entered an adult diversion program that required them to undergo a mental health evaluation, return stolen property, and do community service.[41]

A July 2022 incident resulted in a second arrest warrant, issued on December 8, 2022, for grand larceny after investigators matched Brinton to security camera footage of the theft at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.[42][43][44] The case had been closed for lack of an identifiable suspect until news broke about Brinton's Minneapolis arrest.[45][11] In April 2023, Brinton pleaded no contest to stealing the Las Vegas luggage, was sentenced to pay $3,670.74 in restitution for the stolen luggage and clothes, and was given a suspended jail term of 180 days.[46]

In February 2023, a Tanzanian fashion designer said she had recognized custom-designed clothing she created, lost in a March 2018 airline luggage disappearance at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., being worn by Brinton in photos. She filed a police report in Houston in December 2022 after seeing the photos.[47][48][49] On May 17, 2023, Brinton's home was searched and Brinton was arrested by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; the expected charge was grand larceny.[50][51][52]

Personal life

Brinton is bisexual and uses singular they pronouns.[1][7][9] According to a 2017 Washington Blade local events article, Brinton resided in Washington, D.C., was a singer in the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C., and was engaged to Kevin Rieck.[27] The two were married in 2019.[53]


  • Brinton, Samuel; Tokuhiro, Akira (2008). "An Initial Study on Modeling the United States Thermal Fuel Cycle Mass Flow Using Vensim". 16th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering, Volume 2: Fuel Cycle and High Level Waste Management; Computational Fluid Dynamics, Neutronics Methods and Coupled Codes; Student Paper Competition. ASME. pp. 867–876. doi:10.1115/ICONE16-48571. ISBN 978-0-7918-4815-9.
  • Brinton, Samuel; Passerini, Stefano; Kazimi, Mujid (June 2013). "Nuclear Fuel Cycle Analysis and Optimization with the Code for Advanced Fuel Cycles Assessment (CAFCA)". Transactions of the American Nuclear Society. 108 (1): 131–133.
  • Brinton, Samuel; Kazimi, Mujid (October 2013). "A nuclear fuel cycle system dynamic model for spent fuel storage options". Energy Conversion and Management. 74: 558–561. doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2013.03.041.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Allen, Nick (November 29, 2022). "Gender-fluid US official accused of stealing woman's suitcase at airport". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on November 29, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  2. ^ Forgey, Quint; Ward, Alexander (January 11, 2022). "Inside Biden's secretive weapons shipment to Ukraine". Politico. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Sam Brinton | Department of Energy". October 9, 2022. Archived from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Sands, Geneva; Vazquez, Maegan; Diamond, Jeremy (December 13, 2022). "Top Energy Department official no longer employed after luggage theft accusations". CNN. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Besen, Wayne (December 7, 2022). "Has Sam Brinton's story always been too good to be true?". LGBTQ Nation.
  6. ^ a b Margolin, Emma (November 13, 2014). "UN panel questions gay conversion therapy in US". MSNBC. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Fitzsimons, Tim (September 4, 2019). "'Doesn't surprise me': Conversion therapy survivors on another ex-therapist coming out". NBC News. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Gash, Alison L.; Tichenor, Daniel J. (2022). Democracy's Child: Young People and the Politics of Control, Leverage, and Agency. Oxford University Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-0-19-758166-7.
  9. ^ a b Brinton, Sam (January 24, 2018). "Opinion | I Was Tortured in Gay Conversion Therapy. And It's Still Legal in 41 States". The New York Times.
  10. ^ a b Villarreal, Daniel (October 10, 2011). "The Mystery Surrounding "Driftwood's" Tortured Ex-Gay Survivor". Queerty. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Ramirez, Nikki McCann (December 10, 2022). "Biden Nuclear Waste Official Accused of Airport Luggage Theft -- Again". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  12. ^ Riley, John (December 13, 2022). "Department of Energy: "Sam Brinton is No Longer a DOE Employee"". Metro Weekly. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  13. ^ a b "Samuel Brinton, M.S." Kansas State University. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  14. ^ a b "Perry native suspected in summer luggage thefts | ThePerryNews". December 9, 2022. Retrieved December 28, 2022.
  15. ^ a b "Sam Brinton". LGBTQ Religious Archives Network. Retrieved December 2, 2022.
  16. ^ a b Maxwell, Jill (December 29, 2015). "Meet the Nuclear Engineer Leading the Fight Against Gay Conversion Therapy". Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  17. ^ "MIT graduate students head to Capitol Hill to deliver petition in support of research funding". EurekAlert!. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  18. ^ "MIT's Science Policy Group Model Goes National". MIT Spectrum. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  19. ^ "Samuel Brinton • iBiology". iBiology. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  20. ^ Taylor, Nicole (Spring 2014). "No Future on the Sidelines". MIT Spectrum. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  21. ^ Brinton, Sam (September 2, 2015). "Op-ed: The Real Ramifications of the Rentboy Raid". The Advocate. Pride Publishing Inc. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  22. ^ "2015 Pride Marshals". Boston Pride. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  23. ^ "50 Bills 50 States". October 1, 2017. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ Compton, Julie (January 19, 2017). "OutFront: LGBTQ Activist Fights to End Conversion Therapy". NBC News. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  25. ^ "The DC Sisters Form 1099-N (e-Postcard)". Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  26. ^ Cortez, Jennifer (April 22, 2019). "The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence paint Dolores Park with a full palette to celebrate 40 years". Mission Local. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  27. ^ a b Rosenstein, Peter (November 3, 2017). "Comings & Goings". Washington Blade.
  28. ^ Savage, Rachel (March 31, 2020). "Idaho becomes first U.S. state to ban trans athletes". Reuters.
  29. ^ Eller, Donnelle (January 10, 2016). "Engineer Sees a Power Source in Nuclear Waste". The Des Moines Register. p. 13. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  30. ^ Conca, James (January 14, 2022). "EU Nuclear Waste Organizations Conclude Deep Borehole Disposal Great Option For Nuclear Waste". Forbes. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  31. ^ "Our Team". Deep Isolation. February 2020. Archived from the original on February 24, 2020. Retrieved February 18, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  32. ^ Brinton, Sam (May 11, 2020). "Nuclear Professional Group Says U.S. Should Study Horizontal Borehole Solution". Deep Isolation. Retrieved December 26, 2022. As the Director of Legislative Affairs for Deep Isolation...
  33. ^ "Our Team – Deep Isolation". Deep Isolation. Archived from the original on May 26, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  34. ^ a b "DOE Employee Alleges Hiring Malpractice at Agency's Office of Nuclear Energy". ExchangeMonitor. February 17, 2022. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  35. ^ McDonald, John (July 7, 2022). "Gender-Fluid 'Nuclear Nerd' Climbing the Ladder at Department of Energy". Retrieved October 5, 2022.
  36. ^ "Where should we put our country's nuclear waste? StateImpact Oklahoma goes underground to find out". KOSU. Retrieved October 5, 2022.
  37. ^ Weiss, Benjamin (November 28, 2022). "DOE spent fuel chief Brinton charged with felony theft in Minnesota". ExchangeMonitor. Access Intelligence, LLC. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  38. ^ a b Kilander, Gustaf (November 29, 2022). "US nuclear official charged with stealing suitcase from Minneapolis airport". The Independent. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  39. ^ "Former Biden official Sam Brinton's mug shot released after bail set at $15,000". Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  40. ^ "Former Energy Department official appears in MN courtroom on luggage theft charges". February 15, 2023. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  41. ^ Lyden, Tom (April 17, 2023). "Fmr. DOE official who took luggage from MSP enters diversion". FOX 9. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  42. ^ Bushard, Brian. "Biden Official Sam Brinton's 2nd Alleged Theft Included $1,700 In Jewelry". Forbes. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  43. ^ Catenacci, Thomas (December 10, 2022). "Sam Brinton, nonbinary Biden official, stole jewelry worth $1,700 in second luggage theft: police". Fox News. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  44. ^ Musumeci, Natalie. "Nuclear energy official Sam Brinton — who was charged with stealing a Vera Bradley suitcase — has been accused of swiping luggage at an airport for a second time". Insider. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  45. ^ "Gender-Fluid Energy Dept. Official Sam Brinton Out After Theft Charges". December 14, 2022. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  46. ^ Ex-DOE official takes plea deal in case of stolen luggage from Las Vegas airport, KMOV, April 13, 2023
  47. ^ "Fashion designer who lost luggage claims US official has been wearing her clothes". The Independent. February 23, 2023. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  48. ^ Covucci, David (February 23, 2023). "Luggage stealing ex-Biden official accused by fashion designer of nabbing, wearing her clothes". The Daily Dot. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  49. ^ Silverstein, Joe; Moutevelis, Alexa (February 23, 2023). "Photos of ex-Biden official wearing dress designer alleges was stolen spotted in Vanity Fair 'style' feature". Fox News.
  50. ^ Catenacci, Thomas (May 18, 2023). "Non-binary ex-Biden official Sam Brinton arrested for yet another baggage theft". Fox News. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  51. ^ Graziosi, Graig (May 19, 2023). "Former DOE official arrested for third time for allegedly stealing luggage at airport". The Independent.
  52. ^ Rogers, Zachary (May 18, 2023). "Non-binary ex-Biden nuclear official arrested as 'fugitive from justice' following luggage thefts". KATV. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  53. ^ Dokubo, Titi (December 15, 2022). "Sam Brinton's Husband Sometimes Describes Them as a 'Weird Kind of Batman'". Retrieved May 20, 2023.

External links