President Donald Trump has chosen a new nominee to serve as chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Were that the whole story, it would be but a mere droplet in the firehose of politics news that has come to define life in 2017.
Instead, it turns out that Trump’s pick, Dr. Sam Clovis, is no ordinary nominee—assuming that, you know, “ordinary” is even a thing anymore.
Here’s a quick list of facts you may want to know about Clovis as he goes before the Senate for his confirmation hearing.
- A former public policy and business professor at Morning Side College in Iowa, Clovis is not a scientist. For comparison’s sake, the USDA’s chief scientist under former President Barack Obama, Dr. Catherine Woteki, was the global director of science affairs for Mars, Inc. (the candy company), where she oversaw its research into health and nutrition; served as dean of agriculture at Iowa State University; and served as first Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA from 1997 until 2001. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D in human nutrition from Virginia Tech and a B.S. in biology and chemistry from Mary Washington College.
- Clovis is not a farmer, although he is from the agriculture-heavy state of Iowa.
- Clovis, like Trump, spread birther conspiracy theories about Obama. He also claimed Obama wanted to “enslave” his opponents.
- In a 2012 blog post, Clovis called former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is Black, a “racist bigot.”
- In emails leaked prior to Clovis joining the Trump campaign, he questioned the then-candidate’s “moral center and his foundational beliefs.” (At the time, Clovis supported former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is now Trump’s energy secretary.)
- Back in 2013, Clovis rejected the idea that climate change is “settled science” and asserted that it is instead a “nonsensical theory” invented by liberals to give the impression that they can create “perfect weather.” At a Farm Foundation Forum last October, he told E&E News that “we need more science” before Trump could craft policy. As chief scientist, Clovis would oversee the USDA’s climate change research.
- Clovis currently serves as the White House adviser to the USDA.
- During the 2016 election season, Clovis served as co-chair of Trump’s national campaign.