Energy & Environment

Energy nominee who wrote controversial op-ed on gay troops withdraws

A Department of Energy nominee who co-wrote a piece in 1993 objecting to gay people serving in the military withdrew from consideration on Sunday.

David Jonas, who President Trump tapped last year to be the Energy Department's general counsel, wrote on his personal LinkedIn page that he was withdrawing his name from consideration.

"In considering the additional months that would be required for final confirmation, as well as my professional responsibilities at FH+H Law Firm, I respectfully and regretfully requested that my nomination be withdrawn from consideration," Jonas said.

Jonas told The Hill that he requested his nomination be pulled last week.

Jonas, currently an attorney at the law firm FH+H, has years of experience in nuclear nonproliferation law and related fields. He has served as general counsel of two federal agencies.

In 1993, when he was a Marine Corps officer, he co-authored an opinion piece in The Arizona Republican objecting to proposals to allow openly gay troops in the military or women in combat roles. The Clinton administration later barred openly LGBT soldiers from serving under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which was repealed in 2010.

"Advocates of women in combat are not troubled by the primitive truth that the average man can kill the average woman with his bare hands in a matter of seconds. Bring that up, and you'll be dismissed as a caveman," he wrote in the piece first unearthed by E&E News.

He said that allowing LGBT service members could lead to "blanket parties" - a reference to troops attacking another service member - and "discipline problems."

Jonas distanced himself from the piece when E&E asked about it, saying that "a lot has changed since then," and he now has the "utmost respect" for all troops, regardless of sex or orientation.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 14 to 9 in September, mostly along party lines, to approve Jonas.

But at the end of 2017, Jonas was one of dozens of Trump administration nominees that the Senate sent back to the White House to consider renominating, instead of carrying over to 2018. The Senate only carried over nominees for whom no senator objected.

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