Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an anti-choice Republican who repeatedly vied for the party’s presidential nomination, was offered the top spot at the U.S. Department of Energy, sources confirmed to the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Perry notoriously forgot the name of the Department of Energy during a 2011 Republican primary debate while calling to eliminate the department entirely. “It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: commerce, education, and the, uh … what’s the third one, there? Let’s see,” he said during the debate. “The third one. I can’t. Oops.”
Perry has been a fierce critic of Trump, dubbing the real estate mogul a “cancer on conservatism.”
“He is without substance when one scratches below the surface. He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: A toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said in July 2015.
The Department of Energy exists to “ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions,” according to its website. The department was led by two scientists under the Obama administration. Dr. Ernest Moniz, the current energy secretary, is a nuclear physicist with a background in energy.
Perry admitted at a 2014 event that he is “not a scientist,” while he argued that the country should be “substantially more concerned about Iran changing the temperature of New York” than about climate change.
Perry sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, whose Dakota Access pipeline has been at the center of heated protests by water protectors. He received $236,820 last year from Energy Transfer Partners, according to the company’s SEC filings.
Federal disclosure records reportedly show that Trump, who supports building the pipeline, had a financial stake in the company as recently as May. Though spokespeople for the president-elect claim he sold off his stock in the company, no evidence has been offered to prove it.
As governor of Texas, Perry signed the state’s omnibus anti-choice legislation, HB 2, in 2013. Anti-choice activists claimed the law’s restrictions were intended to help women and maintain safety standards, though they were really about making abortion care far less accessible.
“When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the U.S. Supreme Court opinion declaring the provisions unconstitutional.
Perry opposes abortion care in all cases except for life endangerment.