October 31, 2017

Purported Clovis-Russia Ties Should Be “Final Nail in the Coffin” for USDA Chief Scientist Nominee, Says Science Group

Statement by Mike Lavender, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (October 31, 2017)—Today, more than 3,100 scientists from 50 states and the District of Columbia released a letter opposing Sam Clovis, President Trump’s nominee to lead science at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Coinciding with emerging evidence of Clovis' involvement with Russian officials during the Trump campaign, the letter calls the nomination of Clovis to be undersecretary for research, education and economics (which includes the role of chief scientist) “an abandonment of our nation’s commitment to scientifically informed governance,” and urges the Senate Agriculture Committee to reject it.

Below is a statement by Mike Lavender, senior Washington representative for the Food and Environment Program at UCS.

“The list of reasons why Sam Clovis is unfit to serve as the USDA’s chief scientist is already long: He fails to meet even the most basic qualifications for the position as defined by Congress; he rejects mainstream climate science; he has made racist and homophobic comments and embraces conspiracy theories; and he has questioned the necessity of a basic farmer safety net. Now, emerging evidence of Clovis’ potential involvement with the Trump campaign’s Russian connections should be the final nail in the coffin for his confirmation. At virtually every point in his career, Clovis has failed to display the judgment needed to manage the responsible investment of billions of dollars in taxpayer money in a safe, sustainable, productive food system.  

“The Senate Agriculture Committee should reject his nomination and instead consider any of the hundreds of eminently more qualified individuals for this vital position that serves farmers, ranchers, researchers and consumers, and helps determine the future of our food system.” 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.