Sam Clovis, a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College prior to joining the Trump administration, has been with the president since August of 2015. He currently enjoys the position of White House advisor within the USDA, which the Washington Post described as “Trump’s eyes and ears” at the agency.
Talking Points Memo reports that nothing in Clovis’ history points toward a scientific background. He holds multiple degrees, though none concerning science, and a search of his academic papers returned primarily subjects of foreign policy and homeland security.
Trump’s top pick is cause for confusion, as the 2008 Farm Bill directs the position be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”
Clovis – perhaps best known as a conservative talk radio host – previously oversaw the USDA before Secretary Sonny Perdue was confirmed and gave the green light for instructing agency personnel to clear all public communications with the secretary’s office.
“If the president goes forward with this nomination, it’ll be yet another example of blatant dismissal of the value of scientific expertise among his administration appointees,” he said in a statement. “Continuing to choose politics over science will give farmers and consumers little confidence that the administration has their interests at heart.”
Clovis declined to make a statement, saying he was unable to speak with the press.