John Kerry faces grilling Thursday over Climate Office budget

Climate czar John Kerry will finally feel the heat when he’s grilled by House Republicans this week.

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability is set to force Kerry to explain his budget beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. The hearing will be carried live on YouTube, and accessible on (You can set a reminder below.)

Kerry has been criss-crossing the globe and holding high-level meetings, with little oversight, since being named President Biden’s first-ever Special Envoy for Climate on Jan. 20, 2021. His office has informed the Herald he only reports to the president.

The Herald has also been told Kerry won’t divulge his complete office staff, including titles and pay, until October of 2024 — a month before the next general election. An appeal to the U.S. State Department Freedom of Information office has been denied.

That lack of transparency is the main reason the oversight subcommittee is hauling Kerry before the panel.

“Over the last several years, we have witnessed a boondoggle of climate change spending, and our bill provides a much-needed course correction in several key areas,” Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told Roll Call a week ago.

The subcommittee is proposing a freeze on Kerry’s budget due to lack of oversight.

Michael Chamberlain, director of the government ethics watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust, said the hearing is long overdue.

“Though the Biden Administration has claimed to be the most transparent in history, Protect the Public’s Trust, the Boston Herald, and other watchdogs and media outlets have been trying to pierce the veil of John Kerry’s secretive Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate since its inception,” Chamberlain said Monday.

He added the only luck they’ve had is through litigation demanding Kerry abide by public records requests.

“What documents they have been forced to hand over reveal apparent attempts to skirt federal record-keeping requirements, outsource foreign climate policy to environmental special interests, and avoid disclosing even mundane details about the office, its personnel, and activities. Maybe the Foreign Affairs Committee will be more successful in prying information from John Kerry’s office,” he added.

Kerry’s office has been quick to respond the Herald requests to respond to accusations he uses a private jet for travel, but that’s about as far as he’s gone.

Emails show Kerry has a “proposed staff” of 45 positions. That’s the same-sized office set up to combat ISIS, his staffers pointed out in emails obtained by Protect the Public’s Trust.

The State Department has said funding for Kerry’s office was budgeted to receive $16.7 million annually for both fiscal 2022 and 2023.

Kerry, a former Democratic presidential nominee, U.S. senator from Massachusetts and former U.S. Secretary of State, ran from a Herald reporter the last time he spoke in Boston. On Thursday, he will be front and center.

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