Earlier this month, GTM reported on Sid Bowdidge, a New Hampshire Trump backer who had been offered a prominent job at the Department of Energy.
After GTM, BuzzFeed and Politico wrote about Bowdidge’s 2015 tweets on Muslims -- and his background as a massage therapist -- he was quickly pushed out from his post in the Office of Technology Transitions.
The entirety of that article is below. And we stand behind it. However, no person should be defined by a few tweets -- no matter how offensive they might be to others.
Bowdidge declined to speak with us for the original piece, but we finally talked to him at length this week. He provided his side of the story, as well as additional information on his professional background and role in the Trump campaign.
Firstly, Bowdidge is not only a massage therapist, as earlier coverage implied. Months before volunteering for the Trump campaign in the summer of 2015, Bowdidge left his job as a branch operations manager of a Meineke in Seabrook, New Hampshire to try out massage therapy.
Before that, Bowdidge worked in the tire and automotive retail business for 35 years, and has worked in management since the early '90s. He provided documentation of this. He has since updated his LinkedIn profile. (Although Bowdidge did not work in the energy industry, it is very common for political supporters without direct experience to get appointed to jobs within agencies.)
After volunteering for the Trump campaign in New Hampshire -- and even driving motorcades for the then-candidate -- Bowdidge was tapped as ground campaign manager in the state in 2015. “I had a crash course on how to run a ground game for a presidential candidate,” he said. Bowdidge later worked on “strike teams” in Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio and Texas during the primaries.
It was around this time when he set up a Twitter account, and sent out a few vitriolic tweets about Muslims. Ordinarily, this would not get any attention. But after Trump entered the White House, Bowdidge was appointed to a public office at the Energy Department -- and staffers inside the agency took notice. So did the press.
Bowdidge said he was “horrified” when contacted about his Twitter account, which he had forgotten about. In one tweet, he commented on a CNN article about the San Bernardino shooters, saying “exterminate them all.”
“I was horrified. I understood how people would interpret that. I wish my language wasn’t so strong. I didn’t mean exterminate every human of the Muslim religion. I meant people who would come here and kill innocent people,” said Bowdidge. “I was really angry."
He understood why those remarks would be newsworthy for a newly appointed public official. But he also said he was never given an opportunity to explain himself internally at the White House or the Energy Department. Once GTM and others started pursuing the story, he was almost immediately asked to resign.
After giving a year and a half of his life to the Trump campaign in states around the country, Bowdidge thought that he’d be rewarded with more loyalty. “As I’m finding out, politics is a dirty business. I don’t think there’s as much loyalty as I hoped or thought there would be,” he said.
“I feel the administration caved to the ‘PC’ world,” he later wrote in an email after the conversation. “Something President Trump had talked about many times throughout the campaign of being against. I doubt that he's aware that one of his most loyal and hardest-working staff [members] from the beginning was ousted so quickly.”
Although Bowdidge felt he was targeted by anti-Trump staffers within the DOE, he said his three weeks inside the agency left a good impression. “Almost everybody seemed dedicated to doing the best they could. The people there, every one of them was dedicated to doing the best thing for the department and the country.”
So if Bowdidge had stayed, what would he have worked on? He took a particular interest in small modular reactors. “We need to be really taking a serious look at growing our nuclear supply. What do we do to replace those nuclear plants closing down?”
Below is our previously published piece.
President Trump's team of "beachhead" appointees includes a number of colorful conspiracy theorists and lobbyists, as documented by ProPublica this week.
The new special assistant secretary at the Labor Department once wrote about the "ethnic cleansing" of white people in America. A new special assistant at the Treasury Department is a guerilla warfare expert who has written extensively on the "ideological and political war" waged against the U.S. by Latin America and the Middle East.
One EPA transition team member, Steve Milloy, is a leading climate denial blogger who worked with tobacco interests in the '90s to question the health impact of smoking. He once declared: "I'm happy to be a denier." He's part of a group of climate skeptics who are getting jobs at the environmental agency and influencing climate policy.
In February, Eric Trump's brother-in-law, Kyle Yunaska, got a job at the Department of Energy. His initial job was reportedly in the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. But according to sources, he is currently floating around in the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy without a defined role.
The newest member of the Energy Department beachhead team is also figuring out his role.
His name is Sid Bowdidge, a Trump supporter from New Hampshire. As of August 2015, he was working as a massage therapist.
Now he is taking on a prominent role at the Office of Technology Transitions, a group devoted to helping commercialize cutting-edge energy technologies alongside private-sector partners.
Bowdidge appears to have no background in energy. GTM reached out to him multiple times for comment about the new role -- and also about his Twitter feed.
As of Thursday night, the feed included a post calling Obama's "relatives" radical Islamists. He also issued a call to "exterminate them all" in response to a CNN article about the San Bernardino shooters.
Bowdidge did not respond to GTM's multiple requests for comment. But he did scrub his Twitter feed on Thursday night, and then finally deleted it on Friday morning.
Bowdidge stopped tweeting in December 2015. Below are some sample screen captures of his tweets.
After CNN posted an article about the San Bernardino shooters entering the U.S., Bowdidge called them "scum suckling [sic] maggots of the world" and said we should "exterminate them all."
Bowdidge also used the phrase "Muslim piece of shit" in an exchange.
In response to a Trump tweet, Bowdidge said Obama wouldn't use the term "radical" Islam "because they're his relatives."
He had one tweet somewhat relevant to his job at the Office of Technology Transitions.
According to sources in the Energy Department, Bowdidge's job is still not defined. After a team meeting, he took an interest in the Office of Technology Transitions. His appointment raised concerns among some staffers throughout the department, who saw his posts about Muslims on Twitter and wondered what his lack of background in energy would mean for the team.
One former special adviser to the Office of Technology Transitions, Teryn Norris, reflected the tension felt by some still within the agency.
"What's in question here is not just the integrity of federal institutions and respect for professional civil servants, but basic stewardship of taxpayer-funded programs. It's one thing to recruit former campaign staff into roles focused on scheduling and communications. It's quite another to install a campaign staffer with zero relevant expertise into an oversight or coordination function for a multimillion-dollar office dealing with the commercialization of advanced technologies," he said.
"Given Secretary Perry's stated commitment to supporting energy technology commercialization, I imagine he will want well-qualified professionals to manage offices like the Office of Technology Transitions," said Norris.
The inflammatory use of Twitter is common among members of the Trump administration. Just this week, Trump adviser Roger Stone was suspended from Twitter for calling a woman a "stupid, stupid b*tch" and saying CNN commentator Anna Navarro is "fat, stupid and f*cking Al Cardenas.”
Michael Flynn Jr., the son of the former National Security Advisor, was kicked off the Trump security team and denied a security clearance for pushing the fake Pizzagate conspiracy on Twitter.
Again, we want to reiterate that Bowdidge no longer works at DOE: “Normally, we do not comment on personnel matters. In this case, we can confirm that Sid Bowdidge is no longer employed at the Department of Energy," said spokesman Bob Haus in a statement. DOE would not provide additional details.