Thursday, November 30, 2023

John Kerry Has Big Staff, $16.5M Budget, Even Though Role Remains a Mystery

Because of the opacity surrounding Kerry’s schedule, budget, meetings and travel, it’s not clear what he does in this position...

(By Adam Andrzejewski, RealClear Wire) John Kerry, former Secretary of State and current special presidential envoy for climate, has a big staff and an even bigger budget, employing at least 45 employees with a budget of $16.5 million, according to Judicial Watch.

That comes despite the fact that Kerry’s precise role—a position created by President Joe Biden and only vaguely defined as “climate czar”—remains a mystery to many, including the lawmakers tasked with conducting oversight.

Freedom of Information Act requests from both Judicial Watch and Real Clear Investigations revealed this information, which was not made public until ordered by the courts.

This lack of transparency frustrated some members of Congress, with Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., threatening to subpoena additional records, which Kerry has said will not be released until October 2024.

The organizational chart from the FOIA request shows Kerry has eight fulltime employees, 28 temporary direct hires, three detailees, two fellows, one Intergovernmental Personnel Act position and three contractors. Functions performed by these employees are wide ranging, from a liaison to the National Climate Task Force to a private finance and multinational corporate strategy team.

Real Clear Investigations found Kerry’s office received $16.5 million in 2022, but couldn’t get the government to explain how that money was spent. The State Department has said it can’t comply with that request until April 2025, after this presidential term ends.

Because of the opacity surrounding Kerry’s schedule, budget, meetings and travel, it’s not clear what he does in this position. The State Department says he is “charged with leading U.S. diplomacy to address the climate crisis” while his team “works to ensure that the United States actively engages on climate, including exercising strong U.S. leadership to increase global climate ambition.”

These lofty goals seem to be achieved by flying out to various conferences and events around the world to give speeches and have meetings, functions that could easily and cheaply be performed by the army of foreign service officers and ambassadors currently stationed around the world.

Americans need more transparency regarding Kerry’s job and duties to assess whether his role is actually advancing American interests, or is simply helping the Biden Administration message on climate change.

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