On Tuesday, energy watchdog group Power the Future filed a freedom of information lawsuit against the Biden administration, alleging that it failed to divulge the taxpayer-funded staff of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
PTF filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and listed the State Department as the defendant. The lawsuit alleges that the agency, which houses the multimillion-dollar SPEC office, has repeatedly refused to disclose the names and job titles of Kerry’s staff and resisted congressional oversight surrounding Kerry’s office.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
In January, PTF filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the State Department, asking for an unredacted list of Kerry’s staff, following a Boston Herald report from several weeks prior, saying that it had obtained FOIA documents that showed a list of SPEC office staff positions and salaries but that the names of the individuals in those positions were redacted.
According to the Herald, Kerry’s staff was collectively paid $4.3 million per year, in positions such as “policy analysts” and “senior advisers.” Some officials are paid as much as $186,680 per year, making them some of the highest-paid individuals in the federal government.
In 2022, the State Department budgeted $13.9 million annually for the SPEC office and approved up to 45 personnel in the office.
However, though several officials were able to be identified by Fox News, using the public database Leadership Connect and LinkedIn profiles, the State Department has still refused to share additional information and has been unwilling to explain any of the office’s operations.
Kerry refused to share any names of his staff last year, claiming that isn’t “the required process of the State Department.”
The lawsuit notes that the State Department intends to reveal names and titles of senior officials in the SPEC office in October 2024, asserting 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.”
“John Kerry and his secret climate office are not above scrutiny and certainly not above the law,” Turner said Tuesday.