Sam Brinton remains on leave from the Department of Energy as they await trial on felony theft charges.

The non-binary nuclear engineer has been charged with stealing a $2,325 Vera Bradley suitcase from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sept. 16. Brinton told investigators they accidentally took the bag out of exhaustion and later, fearing arrest, emptied its contents in a hotel room dresser.

A preliminary trial date has been set for Dec. 19 and Brinton’s team is requesting to attend the proceedings remotely due to financial difficulties. It is unclear if Brinton is on a paid or unpaid leave of absence. It has been reported they earn a salary of $178,063 as a DOE deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition. 

Brinton, 35, was charged in October with felony theft of moveable property and, if convicted, faces five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. They have not commented publicly on the charges. 

In a letter to DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, asks for Brinton’s security clearance to be immediately revoked and for DOE to “undertake all necessary steps to terminate their employment immediately.”

The first non-binary person to serve in a federal government leadership role, Brinton has drawn scorn from conservatives for living a very visible kink lifestyle that includes spanking sessions and fetish puppy play. 

Prior to their federal government service, Brinton worked for the LGBT non-profit The Trevor Project, leading efforts to ban conversion therapy on minors.

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