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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
3 Aug 2022
Joe Dwinell

NextImg:Records raise more questions about John Kerry’s Climate Office inner workings

John Kerry’s tight-lipped Climate Office appears to be so worried about putting anything down in writing they pushed for a meeting with the boss to discuss “all the elements we can’t put on paper,” new documents reveal.

In a series of emails obtained through a public records request, Kerry’s subordinates write about the “FY22 and 23” budgets and how not to leave a paper trail.

“I would also suggest a call or meeting soon with jk to update him on FY22 and 23, focusing on all the elements we can’t put on paper,” a March 9 memo from the Climate Office states.

Also, all the emails made public following a Freedom of Information Act request by a watchdog group redact all Climate staff names.

Other emails released in the FOIA talk about “pizza parties” and traveling to “COP26” — last year’s climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland — appointments with the Sierra Club, Zoom meetings with lobbyists, having the White House respond to reporter questions, scheduling conflicts and lots of redactions.

It’s all just the first batch of records obtained by Protect the Public’s Trust that’s suing Kerry in federal court in Washington, D.C., for access to Climate Office records. The Herald is also seeking Kerry’s staff listing and other records, but the paper has been told not to expect anything until October 2024.

Kerry’s office said Tuesday night in an email to the Herald any questions about FOIA documents should be addressed “to the Requester Service Center” for the U.S. State Department.

As for the email about responding to a budget inquiry from journalists, a spokesman said “the Congressional agreement on the omnibus FY22 government funding bill (was) a subject on which the White House Office of Management and Budget takes the lead.”

The spokesman did not immediately address the email directing staff to not write down any details to “jk.”

“What is revealed by the documents the State Department provided to us is troubling from ethics and transparency perspectives,” said Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust.

“In one exchange staff members discuss a meeting to update John Kerry focusing on ‘all the elements we can’t put on paper.’ Could this refer to an attempt to dodge federal ethics or federal record-keeping laws?” he told the Herald in an email.

“In another instance,” he added, “a State employee apparently may have participated in meetings with activist groups discussing grassroots lobbying efforts. If true, this could indicate both anti-lobbying and appropriations violations.”

This all comes as Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, continues to ignore the Herald’s request for public records about his office filed 446 days ago on May 13, 2021.

As recently reported, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, is so fed up with Kerry’s secrecy he wants to defund the Climate Office. “We need to know what John Kerry is doing,” Roy told the Herald.

“Show us his calendar, speeches, we need that kind of transparency,” he added, saying Kerry is probably also “piggybacking off the State Department” to fly all over the world on climate trips. In fact, Fox News reported that Kerry’s private family jet emitted over 300 metric tons of carbon since Biden took office.

A Climate Office email obtained via a FOIA. (Herald screengrab by Joe Dwinell.)

A Climate Office email obtained via a FOIA. (Herald screengrab by Joe Dwinell.)

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