Before William C. Bradford was appointed by the Trump administration to run the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy, he tweeted a slew of disparaging remarks about the real and imagined ethnic, religious and gender identities of former president Barack Obama, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV news host Megyn Kelly and Japanese Americans during World War II.
Bradford was recently appointed director of DOE’s office in charge of assisting Native American and Alaska Native tribes and villages with energy development. Before joining the department, he was attorney general of the Chiricahua Apache Nation. He has also been a faculty member at the U.S. Military Academy, the National Defense University, the Coast Guard Academy and the United Arab Emirates National Defense College. According to his online biography on the department’s website, he holds a doctorate, a law degree and a master’s in business administration.
While Bradford has been at the center of controversies in the past, these missives sent from his now-deleted Twitter account have not been previously reported. In an email on Thursday, Bradford acknowledged the Twitter account and apologized for his comments.
“As a minority and member of the Jewish faith, I sincerely apologize for my disrespectful and offensive comments,” he wrote to The Washington Post. “These comments are inexcusable and I do not stand by them. Now, as a public servant, I hold myself to a higher standard, and I will work every day to better the lives of all Americans.”
The Energy Department did not comment on Bradford on Thursday evening.
The Trump official’s tweets came before he joined the administration and include a response to a story about Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, urging Iowans to vote against Trump ahead of a 2016 presidential caucus there, in which Bradford said: “Who is this little arrogant self-hating Jew to tell anyone for whom to vote?”
Bradford also had some choice words for Obama in December 2016 — one month after Trump beat Hillary Clinton to become president. Referring to an unclear “mission in Tehran,” Bradford asked, “How else can a Kenyan creampuff get ahead?”
The reference to Obama’s Kenyan heritage — his father hailed from the African country — echoes the repeatedly debunked notion behind the so-called “birther movement” once supported by Trump, which stated that Obama wasn’t actually born in the United States. (He was — in Hawaii.) Trump finally admitted in September 2016 that Obama was born in the United States but accused Clinton of originally floating the rumor (which is also something rejected by fact checkers).
Bradford, whose Twitter handle at the time was @Brute_Bradford, also seemed concerned that Obama might try to stay in office past January 2017 and need to be forced out.
Before joining DOE, he sent tweets more directly relevant to the department’s work. In December, after Trump’s election, Bradford wrote: “Soon, ‘climate change’ cultists will be pitied as the nuts they always were.” Under the Obama administration, the Energy Department emphasized developing and promoting relatively carbon-neutral forms of energy, such as nuclear, solar and wind power.
At DOE, Bradford is charged with helping Native Americans and Alaska Native tribes and villages obtain electricity and reduce energy costs. But his tweets before joining the Trump administration display a lack of sensitivity to issues of race and gender. His position does not require confirmation from the Senate.
Bradford took aim at Japanese Americans on the anniversary in 2016 of the opening of internment camps to detain them during World War II, saying, “It was necessary.”
And in at least two Twitter messages, he wrote that women should not serve in the military and referred to then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly as “MegOBgyn Kelly.”
This would not be the first time Bradford courted controversy — except that it previously concerned a lengthy, 95-page law journal article rather than several short, 140-character-or-fewer tweets. In 2015, he resigned from his post at West Point after writing an academic paper arguing the United States should threaten to destroy Muslim holy sites in war “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage.”
Bradford also called for legal scholars “sympathetic to Islamist aims” to be imprisoned or “attacked.” He dubbed such academics “critical law of armed conflict academy,” or CLOACA, which is also a term for the orifice out of which some animals defecate. He suggested journalists with whom such scholars speak could also be targeted.
After resigning from his position as an assistant law professor at West Point in 2015, Bradford told The Post that he left “because I did not want the cadets or U.S. Military Academy to be exposed to any increased risk as a result of the backlash over my article, and I did not wish the institution to be burdened by this or by any other distractions.”
He defended his academic work to The Post at the time, saying the “article indicates that only true propagandists inciting attacks could be subjected to the sanctions I mention, and this parallels existing case law I reference as well as emerging customary international law.”
In 2005, Inside Higher Ed reported that Bradford resigned from Indiana University’s law school after it was revealed that he exaggerated his military service. Bradford denied that accusation, too, in a 2015 interview: “I never exaggerated my military service and any claims to the contrary are false.”
By Dino Grandoni, June 22, 2017, The Washington Post