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Biden admin sued for hiding John Kerry’s staff, coordination with eco groups

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FIRST ON FOX: Energy watchdog group Power The Future (PTF) filed a federal freedom of information lawsuit against the Biden administration Tuesday, alleging it has failed to divulge Special Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry’s taxpayer-funded staff.

PTF filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, listing the State Department as the defendant. According to the lawsuit, the agency – which houses the multimillion-dollar SPEC office – has repeatedly refused to disclose the names and job titles of Kerry’s staff while similarly resisting congressional oversight related to the matter.

“For nearly three years, John Kerry has been jet-setting on the international climate conference circuit while sending taxpayers the bill,” PTF Executive Director Daniel Turner told Fox News Digital. “Today, we begin the process of teaching John Kerry and Joe Biden that they work for the taxpayers. No one should have to waste resources on litigation, but that is our only option since John Kerry thinks he can keep his office off the books.”

“The American people are on the receiving end of countless green mandates and rules, gas stove bans and skyrocketing utility bills, with no opportunity for consent or input, and many of these decisions are hatched in John Kerry’s office,” he continued. “That is why it is our hope that this litigation will finally bring to light the information we deserve to know: the staff names, the office goals and budgets, the outside partnerships that peddle influence on Joe Biden’s green agenda.”

UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION IS QUIETLY FUELING CLIMATE POLICY, FUNDING STAFF IN DEM STATES

John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, attends the UNFCCC Formal Opening of COP28 at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City on November 30, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The COP28, which is running from November 30 through December 12, brings together stakeholders, including international heads of state and other leaders, scientists, environmentalists, indigenous peoples representatives, activists and others to discuss and agree on the implementation of global measures towards mitigating the effects of climate change. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled / COP28 via Getty Images)

Climate envoy John Kerry attends the opening of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP28 on Nov. 30 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Mahmoud Khaled/COP28 via Getty Images)

In January, PTF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department, asking for an underacted list of Kerry’s staff. The request was made after the Boston Herald reported weeks earlier that it had obtained FOIA documents showing a list of SPEC office staff positions and salaries, but redacting the names of the individuals in those positions.

According to the Boston Herald, Kerry’s staff – in positions such as “policy analysts” to “senior advisers” – are collectively paid $4.3 million per year. Some unnamed officials are paid as much as $186,680 per year, making them some of the highest-paid individuals in the federal government.

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Fox News Digital reported in 2022 that the State Department budgeted $13.9 million annually for the SPEC office with approval for 45 personnel. However, while Fox News Digital was able to identify several officials hired by Kerry using the public database Leadership Connect and LinkedIn profiles, the State Department refused to share additional information and has remained tight-lipped about its operations.

U.S. President Joe Biden

In early 2021, President Biden appointed Kerry to lead his administration’s international climate diplomacy efforts. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Last year, during a congressional hearing, Kerry refused to share any names of his staff, explaining that isn’t “the required process of the State Department.”

PTF’s lawsuit, though, notes that the State Department said it would reveal names and titles of senior officials in the SPEC office in October 2024. The complaint asserts that delaying disclosure until then “suggests that the Department intends to selectively withhold this information to prevent public dissemination for the current fiscal year 2024.”

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“John Kerry and his secret climate office are not above scrutiny and certainly not above the law,” Turner said Tuesday.

In addition, the lawsuit states that records responsive to its January FOIA request would shed light on SPEC’s potential involvement in a scheme spearheaded by the United Nations Foundation to insert staff in high-ranking state government climate offices.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., vowed Friday to maintain scrutiny of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry's climate negotiations with China.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., has repeatedly probed John Kerry’s operations. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

It adds that the records would show whether “ideological private parties are paying for State Department ‘staff’ in this already highly unique and thoroughly opaque Office.”

Meanwhile, since President Biden named him the climate envoy in early 2021, Kerry has traveled around the world, attending global climate summits and diplomatic engagements in an effort to push an aggressive transition from fossil fuel power to green energy alternatives.

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Kerry announced in January that he would soon step down to assist with Biden’s presidential campaign. The White House named senior climate adviser John Podesta as Kerry’s replacement last week.

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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