Trump USDA nominee faces pushback over lack of experience

A former co-chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign was nominated last month as the chief scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture, a decision that has been met with pushback ahead of his forthcoming confirmation vote.

President Trump chose Sam Clovis, who is currently serving as a senior White House adviser to the USDA, as his nominee for undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics.

As the department’s chief scientist, Clovis would be responsible for overseeing the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

However, Clovis’ experience and past controversial statements have led some to criticize Trump’s decision to nominate him for the position.

According to biographical information provided by the White House in a press release announcing his nomination, Clovis received an undergraduate degree in political science and spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, including as a pilot. He later obtained an MBA and a Ph.D. in public administration and served as an economics professor at Morningside College in Iowa.

In 2010, he began hosting a talk radio show in Iowa and eventually left his position at Morningside to run for office himself.

In 2014, a year in which he lost both a bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator in Iowa and the election for Iowa state treasurer, Clovis gave an interview to Iowa Public Radio in which he responded to a question about scientific conclusions on climate change.

“I am extremely skeptical,” said Clovis. “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. 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 was Trump’s national campaign co-chairman and senior policy adviser in 2015 after leaving former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s failed campaign for president.

Prior to joining Trump’s staff, Clovis questioned the real estate mogul’s religious beliefs and criticized his performance at a primary debate in emails later obtained by ABC News.

“Of all the potential candidates who spoke, one of them left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs,” Clovis said in the emails.

According to CNN, in a 2012 blog post…

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