Sam Clovis is President Donald Trump’s nominee for top scientist at the Department of Agriculture, is not only not a scientist, but he also doesn’t believe in climate change and has pushed the incorrect theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. Clovis has also lashed out at black leaders, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, who he called a “racist black.”
The 67-year-old Clovis, who was born in Salina, Kansas, was a political activist and conservative radio host in Iowa before he unsuccessfully ran for Iowa State Treasurer. In August 2015, he joined the Trump campaign. Since Clovis’ appointment as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics for the Department of Agriculture requires a Senate confirmation, Clovis is currently acting as Senior White House Advisor to the USDA.
“Dr. Clovis is a proud conservative and a proud American,” a USDA spokesperson told CNN. “All of his reporting either on the air or in writing over the course of his career has been based on solid research and data. He is after all an academic.”
Here’s what you need to know about Clovis.
1. Clovis Pushed the Idea That Obama Wasn’t Born in the U.S. & Claimed the Media Didn’t Scrutinize His Connections Because He Is Black
In one post from 2012 for Sioux City’s KSCJ radio station, Clovis pushes the idea that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., also known as “birtherism,” bringing up many of the theories from people who believed Obama was born in Kenya.
“For over a decade, Obama allowed his publisher to carry a biography that had him born in Kenya. Only after beginning his pursuit of public office did he ‘correct’ the entry,” Clovis wrote. However, as CNN notes, the literary agent admitted this was a mistake on her part and she never spoke with Obama.
Clovis also suggests that the media gave Obama a “pass” and didn’t question his links to left-wing leaders because of his race.
“Why have the American people not been exposed to his incredible flaws? Could it be that the first African-American president is being given a pass because he is Black? How incredibly racist is that?” Clovis wrote. “The logical conclusion is that because he is Black, he cannot help himself. This kind of thinking is the absolutely worst. Of course, the real racists in America are those who, unfortunately, make that connection.”
2. Clovis Called Eric Holder a ‘Racist Black’ & Tom Perez a ‘Racist Latino’
During an episode of his radio show Impact with Sam Clovis in 2013, Clovis called Holder, the Attorney General at the time, a “racist black.” He also referred to Tom Perez, the former Secretary of Labor who now leads the Democratic National Committee, as “a racist Latino,” according a transcript CNN obtained.
“He is a racist bigot who cannot see beyond his own hateful, willful and despicable world view,” Clovis wrote of Holder. “As such, his administration of his duties hurts all Americans and makes us all much less safe. He is supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, defending the Constitution and all the laws of the land, but he is selective in what he does or has his people do and appears to have no intention of supporting the Constitution.”
CNN reports that Clovis would often attack other Democratic leaders. He called Nevada Senator Harry Reid “mentally ill” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “the Batwoman of Alcatraz.”
3. Clovis Questioned Climate Change, Calling the Term ‘Nonsensical’
Clovis has also questioned scientists who say that climate change is real. As CNN found, Clovis called the term climate change “nonsensical” during a June 2013 radio show appearance. “I’m not sure this is settled science,” Clovis said.
Clovis continued, “I’m not sure that we’re really looking at anything understanding — what we have to examine is how the language changes and when you start to go away from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ this goes right into the heart of progressive thinking because what it says — or what the implication is — is that somehow the progressives are going to figure out a way to create the ideal climate in all regions of the earth. And so how nonsensical is that? If you follow that logic to its logical conclusion, that’s the conclusion in which you arrive…is that there is some perfect weather or some perfect climate that we will have for everyone — everyone will thrive.”
When presented with NASA figures that 97 percent of scientists agree that warmer temperatures are a result of human activities, Clovis told Iowa Public Radio in 2014 that he is still “extremely skeptical.”
“I have looked at the science and I have enough of a science background to know when I’m being boofed. And a lot of the science is junk science,” Clovis insisted. “It’s not proven; I don’t think there’s any substantive information available to me that doesn’t raise as many questions as it does answers. So I’m a skeptic.”
Clovis does not have degrees in science. He has a B.S. in political science, an MBA and a doctorate in public administration though. That’s not the background the 2008 farm bill suggests for the role, notes the Washington Post. The job should go to someone picked “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”
4. He Ran an Unsuccessful Campaign for Iowa State Treasurer in 2014 & Wanted to Abolish the IRS
Clovis tried to get into politics as an elected official first. In 2014, he ran for Iowa State Treasurer. However, he lost to Democrat Michael Fitzgerald by 9.2 percent.
Clovis told USA Today that his top three issues were tax reform, passing a balanced budget amendment in Congress and cutting baseline budgeting. He even wanted to abolish the IRS, while implementing a national sales tax and the “Fair Tax.”
“70,000-plus pages of ridiculous punishment of American productivity is a very good reason to abolish the tax code,” Clovis said in 2014, notes Caffeinated Thoughts. “Using the IRS to stifle the free speech of political opponents is an obvious reason to scrap the whole thing. And lobbyists using their influence to gain special status at the expense of everyone else is just one more reason American needs fundamental tax reform.”
As for a national sales tax, Clovis told Iowa Public Radio that he thinks it would help “fund our government on, and it would incentivize Congress to keep the economy growing and flowing.”
5. Clovis Also Ran an Unsuccessful Senate Primary Campaign in 2014
Clovis was also a professor at Morningside College, but left in 2014 when he began his career in politics. Before his unsuccessful treasurer campaign, he also ran a U.S. Senate campaign, but he lost the Republican nomination to Joni Ernst.
Clovis attended the Air Force school in Colorado Springs and was a flight instructor from 1971 to 1996. After retiring, he earned his doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama and moved to Iowa in 2000.
Clovis also has a role in the Trump-Russia drama. In May, The Washington Post reported that Clovis worked on Russia-related issues when he worked at the Pentagon in the 1980s. During his Senate campaign, he also questioned the sanctions placed on Russia. The Post also reported that Clovis was behind Carter Page getting involved in the Trump campaign and the only background check he did was a quick Google search.